Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fulham 2 Bolton Wanderers 1

It was all optimism in the River Cafe before the game. The talk was of whether Andy Johnson could emulate ex Fulham heroes Geoff Horsfield and Brian McBride and score on his debut. The father and son I met before the Arsenal game were in there: the father told us that it makes a big difference if a striker scores on their debut, they've won the crowd over from the start, and are forgiven anything after that. Jimmy Bullard scored on his home debut I said. Doesn't count he said, Jimmy's not a striker.

In contrast the Bolton fans walking behind us through Bishop's Park were pessimistic. They told me that knowing Gary Megson he would probably play with Kevin Davies up front and everyone else back in their own penalty area. At the time I thought they were joking.

I can't remember a game like it at Fulham for years. I renewed my season ticket three years ago (having let it lie fallow for 20 years) and they have been three years of toil and struggle. But today the sun shone and Fulham played like Brazil. We could have had five in the first half and four in the second. Zamora span a defender on the edge of the area and cracked it in to put us two up. 'Goal of the month' said the bloke next to me. Gera was intelligent on the left flank. Johnson chased everything and looked a right handful. We were totally in control.

Bolton did what their fans said they would. One up front: Kevin Davies. Five in midfield. Gardner sometimes drifted wide on their left, but opposite him O'Brien always stayed narrow so they had no width on the right. They looked devoid of inspiration and only threatened from set pieces.

The crowd were cheering Fulham touches with Oles from early in the second half. We were strolling. The man behind me said that Bolton looked as bad as Fulham had been under Sanchez. His neighbour asked him to refrain from mentioning that man's name. I was reminded me of a moment before one of those crucial relegation battles late last season. We were sitting in the River Cafe. A man turned to his wife and said to her 'you're worse than Lawrie Sanchez you are'. The whole cafe suddenly fell silent, wondering what this poor lady had done to deserve the slur (put sugar on his chips?).

I couldn't help thinking of Sanchez while Fulham were stroking it around today, and about the transformation Hodgson has wrought. We've gone from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the sluggishness of Chris Baird to the athleticism of John Pantsil, from Kamara and Healy to Zamora and Johnson, from hoofing to passing, losing to winning, scowling to smiling, dreading to dreaming. But like Yin and Yang, black and white, good and evil, there would have been no Hodgson without Sanchez.

Kevin Nolan clattered into Bullard three quarters of the way through the game, Bullard was down long enough to recall the horrible injury that took him away from us for 18 months, prompting the crowd to run through the whole of the repertoire of Jimmy Bullard songs for most of the rest of the game. Johnson and Zamora got thunderous standing ovations when they were substituted. Bolton got a goal back near the end, but the feared travesty of justice didn't materialise.

In the crush of people waiting to be let into Putney Bridge station I heard a man talking hungarian. I guessed they had come to see Zoltan Gera. Turns out they are Ferencvaros fans. Ferencvaros, Gera's old club, are by far the largest team in Hungary. Their ground is on Ulloi Ut, the main road into Budapest from the east, and a road famous in Hungarian history for the pitch battles fought there when Soviet tanks entered the city from the east in 1956. I didn't realise what bad times they had fallen on, the guy told me that they had been relegated out of the Hungarian top flight, and stuck down there for a few years now. And to cap it all they have been bought as a feeder club for Sheff United. No disrespect for Sheff Utd but.... He told me that Sheff United have sent their second team coach, Bobby Davison to manage them. Again no disrespect, I remember him as a decent enough striker for Derby in the 80s, and I guess the mighty magyars of 53 are too old or too dead, but....

I asked a Bolton fan what he thought of the game. He speculated on how long Megson might have left as Bolton boss. 'Some of our fans were shouting Megson out at the end but others where defending him by singing that stupid ginger mourinho song - he is no way a Mourinho.' He spoke about the money they wasted on Heider Helgueson, how all their three strikers were clones of each other, big strong and slow, and how the most of expensive of them, Elmander, is out for six weeks. No pace and no creativity. He said he would take Allardyce back tomorrow, and reminisced about the days of Okocha, Jourkieff and Anelka.

Finally, waiting outside the turnstiles to the toilets at Wimbledon station I met the guy who used to sit behind me at Fulham, and whose 'this is toilet' comments somehow helped make the Sanchez months bearable.

Me (gushing) Weren't we brilliant
Him (not cracking a smile): 'Shouldn't have let them have that goal. Should have had the game out of reach well before that
Me: We had loads of chances though, we hit the bar, had a goal disallowed, penalty appeal turn down
Him: No use having chances if you don't take them'.
Me: It takes a lot to please you
Him: Yeah he said. Don't forget I've been watching Fulham season after season he said.

A hard bitten fans can spot a fair weather one when he sees one. Which reminds me, I forgot to tell the Ferencvaros fan I was a teenage armchair Honved fan.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fulham 1 Arsenal 0

First home game of the new season. Like going back to school. Checking out old haunts, seeing familiar faces.

First stop the River Cafe, straight opposite Putney Bridge station. A great place for pre-match gossip. The gossip whets your appetite for the game at the same time as the pie and two veg satisfies the inner man. The gossip doesn't have to be true, it just has to be interesting.

There are a couple of fellas, father and son who I often see in there before home games. Here is how our conversation went:

The father: I don't rate Roy Hodgson
Me (suprised): He did an amazing job last season, I don't think Jose Mourinho could have kept the dross Sanchez left us with in the premier league
Father: It wasn't Hodgson. He'd lost it, he was crying after we lost to Sunderland. For the last three games Murphy and McBride took over the dressing room. At half time in the Man City game Danny Murphy gave the team talk. I've heard it from within the club. He told them they were going down that afternoon if they didn't pull their finger out. Thats why when Kamara got the winner he ran straight over to Murphy. And that is why Murphy is captain now.

At the ground we have moved seats. Not by far, up a bit and along a bit, block CL to block B, but we have crossed the great divide from Johnny Haynes lower to Johnny Haynes upper. Johnny Haynes lower was the old enclosure terrace, it has a shallow slope, and the new seats were put over the terracing four years ago. Johnny Haynes upper is much steeper, you get a great perspective on the game. The wooden seats are the original ones that were put in when the stand was built in 1905, and are the oldest in the premier league. My son admired the way these seats don't flip back when you stand up, they just stay there. I guess they wouldn't have lasted 103 years if they flipped up every time a Fulham fan stood up in anger (or joy).

Last season Arsenal came and wove pretty patterns all around Fulham. The game was over after half an hour, Adebayor had risen twice around the penalty spot to crack two identikit headers into the lower bottom corner, both after twenty seven pass moves.

Arsenal's midfield four that day were Hleb, Fabergas, Flamini and Rossicky. Two of them left over the summer, the other two of them were injured so this time they had to play Walcott, Denilson, Eboue and Nasri. No comparison. Walcott is still a kid. Nasri has only played one premiership game. Denilson isn't the finished article and Dave (a colleague with an Arsenal season ticket) describes Eboue as 'a traffic cone of a player who can't pass properly'. It was a good day to play them.

Before the game I wondered if Fulham would go back to five in midfield, as most teams do against top four sides. In last week's defeat against Hull reports said that we were outmuscled in midfield, and that Bullard and Murphy in the middle weren't able to offer any protection for the defence. But no, Hodgson stuck to his guns, we played 4-4-2 same as they did.

Fulham started well, with some nice interpassing.

Early on Van Persie missed a good chance (I missed it too, my son needed a wee). On our way back we stood at the top of the stairs to see a Fulham corner which someone bundled in. After the match a TV replay showed that it was all 6 foot five of Brede Hangeland, flying at the ball feet first like Eric Cantona flew into that Palace fan all those years back.

Adebayor, just like last season, rose at the penalty spot and got power and direction into a header, but this time it came back of the post.

Arsenal's big players drifted in and out of the game, there were twenty minute periods when I forgot Nasri was playing, forgot Adebayor was playing, forgot Walcott was playing. It was Walcott that the Arsenal fans I spoke to afterwards were most disappointed with- he was up against debutant Fulham left back Tony Kallio who was standing in for Paul Konchesky, but Walcott didn't seem to want to test Kallio out.

When Wenger brought a third striker on, Nicholas Bendtner, with twenty minutes left Robin Van Persie looked around at his team mates and shrugged his shoulders, wondering where he was going to play. A sign that all wasn't well (they stuck him out on the right side of midfield).

Fulham retained a good share of possession until the last ten minutes, when it became backs to the wall time.

Murphy, as well as his usual precision passing, was a tiger in midfield, making lots of key challenges and interceptions. Bullard seemed to play a more disciplined game than at times last season, not straying too far, and hardly misplacing a pass all day.

Zamora did a great job in his home debut as centre-forward playing with his back to goal, staying central, holding the ball up, bringing the midfield into it. Soeul Ki-Hyun drifted off him and had a decent game, he got a nice ovation at the end which will help him: he was a Sanchez signing and the crowd have got at him, which is hard on someone like him who needs confidence to play. True neither Soeul or Zamora looked like scoring on their own account, but once Andy Johnson's pace and finishing power are added to Zamora's hold up play we will have a side worth watching.

At the end the Fulham players all stood in the centre circle and waved at the crowd, and pointed bemused at our new full back John Pantsil, who was sprinting round the touchline, as fresh as a daisy, a solo high speed lap of honour to milk the applause.

Hodgson has been with Fulham for eight months now, and the club have got better every month. Whether it is him or Danny Murphy, someone is doing a good job.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cut off your hands

I went to a gig in my lunch break yesterday (a career first). Cut off your hands played a twenty minute set at Pure Groove record shop in Smithfield.

I got there five minutes before the gig started. The shop was open as normal, it was just busier than usual. (I'm often the only person in there at lunchtime).

I stood at the front and looked at the speakers, amps and drumkits. A person behind me said that with all that equipment the gig would be deafening in the small record shop. He was right, my ears are still aching 30 hours later.

There were about 30 people there, swelling to about forty by the time the gig started.

As you can see from the pic they are a four piece indie guitar band. Young fellas from New Zealand. Nice to listen to, quite melodic, check it out on My Space, there is nothing not to like about it. The singer was energetic and had a couple of drums of his own to bang away at various points.

They were the politest band you could ever see. The singer thanked the audience for sharing their lunchtime with him. After the gig I spoked to their bass guitarist, who was browsing Pure Groove's wall of the 100 CDs and records they have selected to sell. He said they have come over to live in London because they have signed to a UK record label. I naively asked whether they had thought of signing to a New Zealand label. He said that there wasn't any decent labels in NZ and they always knew they would have to move to the US or the UK (they weren't bothered which one of the two).

The band haven't had a day off for 2 months. They have been either playing a gig or travelling to one. I asked him how he coped with that. He said that when they had a similar workload on their Australian tour they all ended up really sick (but that was partly because people wanted to party with them after the gigs).

Then he had to go and pack up his stuff because they were playing a gig in Portsmouth in the evening. I've looked at their tour schedule: it seems like they are playing every University in Britain over the next month.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lunchtime just got better (but more expensive)

Smithfield is within the jurisdiction of the City of London, but outside of the old City walls. It is the furthest that Wat Tylor and the Peasants Revolt reached in 1381 and the furthest that the Great Fire of London got in 1666. And now it plays host to what is probably the City's first and only independent/alternative record shop.

Its called Pure Groove. I got a very pleasant suprise when I walked through Smithfield this Monday luncthime and saw it.

It is a big shop but it only sells 100 titles at any one time. They pick the 100 CDs that they are really into and display them over on one wall. They change the selection every week. It is a great idea: less is more. I will end up going in the store just to find out is in their 100.

They used to be in Archway (North London) but moved to Smithfield in June this year because they could have extra space for instore gigs. The benefit of only selling 100 titles is that it leaves the rest of the store clear for gigs, art exhibitions and installations.

I've been there every lunchtime since I found it. I've bought We'll drive home backwards by Cocosuma and Love, ire and song by Frank Turner. Very happy with both. I felt my age when I read Pure Groove's description of Frank Turner as 'a modern Billy Bragg'.

Here is a video of one of their instore shows: the Virgins. My favourite bit is 5 minutes into the video when they take the band over to the 100 wall and the band comment on the selection and on the other bands represented in it

And here is Frank Turner's instore there:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fulham 3 Celtic 1 (friendly)

In Bishop's Park there is a monument to the men and women from Hammersmith and Fulham who voluntarily went to Spain in 1936 and died in the fight against fascism. I took my son to read the inscription the first time I took him to a Fulham game, but it is usually ignored by home and away fans alike as they stroll to and from matches. So it made a pleasant change today to see a group of Celtic fans pay their homage by standing at the monument after the match and singing some freedom songs from the Irish folk tradition. It made me think how nice it would be to have a friendly against Barcelona (or a Champions League tie, whatever).

Most of Fulham's new signings played at least a half: Bobby Zamora scored with a volley, Zoltan Gera played out on the right wing and showed some subtle touches, John Pantsil played at right back and impressed my daughter with his pink football boots. David Stockdale played in goal and did OK apart from a bizarre moment when he carried the ball out of the penalty area and the referee Steve Bennett kindly waived play on. Tony Kallio came on at left back in the second half and looked tall, lanky, awkward, rangy and difficult to play against - I liked him.

There were patches when Celtic played the ball about well but Fulham were comfortable. Jimmy Bullard looked sunburned and his famous shaggy hair has received some serious attention from a hairdresser with a peroxide look. He was his typical positive, creative but imprecise self. His passing was all awry today but he still seemed to be at the heart of our best stuff in the first half. The Celtic fans jeered him when he fell over the ball in their box and when he put a free kick into orbit over their goal. I'm not used to him getting that sort of treatment - he's one of those rare players even opposition supporters normally like (apart from Bolton fans who don't like his old club Wigan).

Danny Murphy came on with his precise passing, a cut above anyone else's. The best moment of the match was when he chipped a corner direct to Leon Andraeson, unmarked at the edge of the box who smashed a volley into the net.

The Celtic fans were the star of the show, there must have been 12 or 13 thousand of them, they had three quarters of the ground, they made a fearsome noise, and were very friendly.

On the way back I got chatting with a guy who lives in Dover, and belongs to the Folkestone branch of the Celtic Supporters club . He told me they wanted to paint green hoops across the white cliffs of Dover but they couldn't do it because of health and safety considerations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Anna gives her horse a name

Anna (age 6): holds up her Nintendo DS to show a gleaming white horse : What jewel does this horse looks like mummy?
Tania (age 39): I think it looks like a pearl
Anna: I am going to call it pearly. How do you spell it mummy?
Tania: p-e-a-r-l-y
Andrew : (age 9) No, you don't spell it like that! (runs and gets his London A-Z. Points to a train station in South London.) Look! This is how you spell it!
Anna: typing the name of the horse into her DS : p-u-r-l-e-y

Monday, June 23, 2008


The first issue of the DFC arrived on our doorstep last week. I can't believe how good it is. 36 pages long with no adverts. The drawing is beautiful, the comic looks and feels special, the stories are funny, suprising and different from each other.

My wife, my nine year old son and me have read it cover to cover . My 6 year old has had half of it read to her and wanted the other half read to.

It is the first weekly comic launched in Britain for 25 years. All the other comics for the 6-12 age group have played safe, made themselves monthly and based themselves around a big TV or film tie-in. But monthly serials don't work because you forget the cliff-hanger by the time the next issue comes round. The only tie-in DFC has is with the family section of the Guardian on a Saturday.

If you haven't seen it yet it is because it not available in the shops: it costs £3 per issue, available only from the DFC website.

Forbidden Planet have given the DFC a gracious review, even though they must be disappointed that they can't sell the comic themselves. In a perfect world it would be available in newsagents, so that kids could stumble upon it by chance. This way they are dependent on their parents to buy it. But Rome wasn't built in a day, this model allows DFC to start up with a relatively small audience. Who knows where they will be in a years time?

Besides I like the print on demand model they operate where it doesn't get printed until someone orders it (it contrasts with the print-without-demand of all those free newspapers they give out at London stations).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Me on TV talking about Graffiti

Friction TV used a chunk of their interview with me in their piece about the graffiti on the side of the Tate Modern.

I'm right at the end of the video. For background to it see my post on Blu (unfortunately they didn't use the bit where I went on about the numskulls!)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fulham 2 Birmingham City 0

Ten to three, Saturday May 3 2008. Block CL, Johnny Haynes Stand. Me and Andrew are eating strawberries from a punnet as the rest of Craven Cottage bellows their support for Fulham before the vital relegation crunch against Birmingham.

Somehow it felt right, the day was hot, the mood was of nervous expectancy and the strawberries were delicious. I offered one to the people on our row and the one behind us: people whose black humour with occasional glimmers of cheer have mirrored Fulham's season. I did think of offering them to the folks in the row in front of me, who have suffered this season not just from Lawrie Sanchez's long ball football and second rate signings, but also from having their chairs kicked by my Andrew in his more fidgety moments. But I ducked out of that one.

This wasn't just another in the long string of must-win games we have had at Craven Cottage this year (most of which Fulham lost!). If we lost this one we were relegated. The fact that Birmingham were in just as serious a predicament added spice to the encounter. Do or die today.

Fulham were all over Birmingham for the first ten minutes with high tempo passing football. The atmosphere was unrecognisable from your normal laid back Craven Cottage. Every chant from the Hammersmith End was echoed and amplified by the whole of the Johnny Haynes stand.

The game plateaud out. Birmingham's defence looked strong. Jimmy Bullard gave the ball away in his own half a couple of times which led to Birmingham's best chances. Breda Hangeland used his strength to dominate Birmingham's striker James McFadden.

Half time. General impression we had done allright but hadn't really looked like scoring. A man in his fifties washing his hands in the gents said that he hadn't slept the previous night for thinking about this game.

Second half. Not long gone. Free kick half way in Birmingham's half, Jimmy Bullard floats in a diagonal ball and Brian McBride heads in. One-nil to us and I expected that Birmingham would come at us with all guns blazing. But no, Fulham kept on swarming forward. Birmingham seem to have crumbled . When they brought on an extra striker virtually every outfield player ran over to him, asking for instructions on where their boss wanted them to play - a sure sign of disarray.

Fulham's forward momentum subsided, Birmingham started to get back into it. You couldn't take your eyes off it, it was frenetic. Fulham playing with huge commitment and intensity : flying into tackles and blocks. The guy behind me asked whether Brum's left back had an injury: whenever we broke down the right Simon Davies seemed to have oceans of space. There was nothing Birmingham could do about it, they had used all their subs.

Five minutes to go, Birmingham have a chance at one end. Then a hopeful ball somehow gets through the Birmingham defence and Eric Nevland finds himself alone with only the keeper to beat. Calmness personified, never looking like missing, he rolled the ball into the net.

Delirium. I leap on the man in front of me (to mitigate or compound the sin of not offering a strawberry?) I looked round at Andrew: he was being embraced by the person behind me. I hugged John the nice fella to the left of me, then Andrew. High fives with the fella behind me and the fella next to him. It seemed to last for ages but when I looked at the pitch again the Fulham players were still in a heap in front of the Hammersmith end. Murphy and Bullard on top of Eric Nevland.

We only ever see Eric Nevland for 15 minutes at the end of a game but this was the second time in three weeks that he has slotted away a vital clinching goal.

Eventually the game resumed, the Johnny Haynes stand all standing up now. And for the first time this season a new chant is heard: not the plaintive yearning of 'come on Fulham' but the deep voiced certainty of 'we are staying up'.

Stoppage time. The fellas behind me started hugging and doing their own special dance: we turn around and they explain 'the final whistle has gone at Reading: they've lost one-nil'.

The final whistle goes, everyone stays behind to witness a joyous lap of honour. After being being second from bottom for four months, Fulham had now pulled themselves out of the bottom three, and would stay up if they won their last game of the season away at Portsmouth.

Friday, May 23, 2008


It was Friday lunchtime, and I was standing looking at this huge work of graffitti art painted on the front of the Tate Modern:(photo from )

I started to sketch the big face(s). Four people came along. From their conversation it was clear that one of them knew the artist. He told me the artist was from Bologna in Italy and was called Blu. He advised me to look on YouTube for Blu's amazing animated works of grafitti. If like me you wonder how you can have animated graffiti then take a look at this stunning video:

I went back to my sketching. A lady from Friction TV came along with a film camera.

She asked a man next to me whether she could film him answering the question
'will galleries and companies kill graffiti art by commercialising it and sanitising it?'

The man said that these graftti artists had devoted lots of time and care honing a skill and were entitled to take some money for it. Then she filmed me. I wanted to say that galleries, record companies, fashion companies and the like need new movements and ideas from time to time, but can't generate them themselves. They're forced to take ideas from the street because that is where new movements come from. But I actually went on a bit of a ramble comparing the work we were looking at to the numskulls mixed in with a Guantanomo bay critique.

She told us both that our contributions would be put up on the Friction TV website within hours, but as I write they are not up there: maybe we didn't get through quality control.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Anthem for Jimmy Bullard

Its Fulham's big game this Saturday: at home to Birmingham City.

So I've written this song about Jimmy Bullard, to the tune of 'the animals marched in two by two hurrah' (with a nod to the Liverpool fans who use the tune for their Torres song.)

That Sanchez he was such a clown, Bullard, Bullard
It looked like he would take us down, Bullard, Bullard
But you came back and saved the day, and now we even win away
Cos you're super Jimmy, super Jim Bullard

They said your knee would never mend, Bullard, Bullard
But now we watch your free-kicks bend, Bullard, Bullard
Past the keeper like a dart, to warm the cockles of our hearts
Cos you're super Jimmy, super Jim Bullard

You were Chris Coleman's greatest buy Bullard, Bullard
You've said you'll stay until you die Bullard, Bullard
We'll sing this song throughout the land, and we'll put your name on one of our stands
Cos we love you Jimmy, super Jim Bullard

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Our second greyhound: Becks

Becks has come to live with us. Like our first dog (Alexa), Becks is an ex-racing greyhound. He raced under the name of Lethal Becks and retired about a year ago. Apparently he is named after the bottled beer rather than the footballer.
After retirement Becks stayed for a year at a very good home in South East London, so he is used to being a family pet.

He is a nice calm dog, he hasn't been any trouble, and seems to get on fine with Alexa. I think she is pulling rank on him a bit now though: she wanted his bed this morning, so Becks had to go and sleep on hers. Then a bit later Alexa changed her mind and got her bed back

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

St Helens Green

This is the view from the cottage in St Helens, on the Isle of Wight, where we spent the first week of the Easter holidays.

It was the first time we had taken our dog on holiday. We didn't want to leave it on its own in a cottage it wasn't used to, but luckily we managed to get into a dog friendly routine.

Most mornings we booked the kids in for a pony walk from Sally's stables at Bembridge. The ponies walked for an hour along Bembridge beach while Tania and I followed behind with the dog. It is an interesting beach, the most easterly point of the Isle of Wight, with a vast limestone ledge jutting out from underneath a cliff. The ledge gets covered up at high water and is a notorious hazard to boats and yachts.

After the walks we would go to the Crab and Lobster pub in Bembridge, our favourite pub: it is dog friendly and does great prawns and chips.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Instant narrative by Dora Garcia

The 'Double Agent' exhibition currently running at the ICA, is a collection of works where an artist uses other people (performers, the audience) as the medium for their work. It includes Dora Garcia's work 'Instant Narrative.'

You enter an empty room. On the wall is a projection of a computer screen, displaying some text. From time to time a new sentence appears. If you look through the doorway into the next room you can see a person seated at a desk with a Mac laptop, typing.

I approached the typist. She had typed the words displayed on the wall. She told me she writes down what she sees in the room. I went back into the room and waved my arms about. After a delay the words 'man stands in the middle of the room flapping arms frantically' appeared on the wall.

I went back there on Monday lunchtime. I sat in the room with my little Asus eee laptop, and typed the narrative that I saw displayed on the wall. There was a different typist at the desk this time.

Some people walked straight through the room and hardly paused to look at the dull text on the wall. But when people realised that the text was about them they tended to linger, waiting to see what thought would appear next and giggling at descriptions of themselves.

It is the usual gallery scenario of people looking at a wall, but the difference here is that the wall is looking back at you, commenting on you, and commenting on your reaction to it.

There were times when the people in the room were motionless. The wall had nothing to comment on, so it didn't comment. There would be minutes with no addition to the narrative. The wall's silence echoing our silence, its lack of reaction to us mirroring our lack of reaction to it.

The set up adds to the tension. The typist is obscured, seated in the dark of the next room (where a Barbara Visser film is showing). The words don't appear as she types them: when she has finished a line she presses a button and then the whole line appears at once. We cannot be sure she hasn't already typed something that will appear any second.

The pauses don't go on for ever: one side would crack: someone would leave the room, or the wall would make a comment. At one point the wall that ended a prolonged pause with the sentence 'The man stands motionless. like a statue, his face hiding any expression.'

What would happen if no-one visited the ICA on one day of the exhibition? Would there be a narrative? Would there be an artwork? Would the wall periodically say 'there is still no-one in the room?' What happens when the typist goes to lunch? Does someone else take over, or is the wall silent until she comes back?

It becomes hard to leave the room, you want the person to say something about you. When you do leave you want to come back to see whether the wall has described you leaving.

I would like to go there for a whole day. From the moment the exhibition opens until chucking out time in the evening. I'd bring sandwiches, a flask of tea, and my little laptop. The wall would tell the narrrative of my day, the people I came into contact with, the times I got up and stretched to avoid getting cramp from sitting cross-legged on the floor, the times when I left the room to go to the toilet.

Below is the complete narrative from the twenty minutes I sat in the room on Monday lunchtime. There are only four sentences about me, I have put them in bold.

a man steps in behind them, hands rummaging in his coat.
he takes a crossed leg seat.

the girls giggle in unison.
reading, embarrassed.
another slips in behind them, obscured.
A woman, shadowing the blonde girl in front
she steps out into the light smiling
heels tap across the floor into the dark
the two friends retrace their steps
three women huddle in the dark

still reading these words from its black safety
the woman behind them swings her heavy leather bag as she walks
a metronome in motion
a smiling face of the invigilator at the letterbox doorway.
two girls sit closely.
watching the film in comfortable silence
unconsciously distracted

they twist heads back to read glimpses

a woman shuffles into the space.
red and tartan, her coat keeping her hands warm
she crosses the floor and takes a heavy seat.
the blonde friend shifts in her seat.

the pair raise and exit together.

hesitating at the door.

an obscured person appears from the corner
two more enter to take his place

supported by the back wall.
a man and woman read in silence
white pages held in hands.
the man stands motionless.
like a statue, his face hiding any expression.
his female counterpart moves to the side.
the woman in red and tartan interupts the space
long dreadlocks and red jeans

she steps across the projection
barbara visser printed onto her clothes
she peers out into the light

polyester rusling
still he stands reading.
balanced by his right hand on shoulder strap.
he glances round the ceiling corners suspiciously.

the woman loiters in the doorway before she leaves

idle fingers twist in her hair.

the statuesque man gives way to a smile.

two more men step inside the room.
they stand transfixed their eyes glued to the screen
the tapping of a keyboard echoes around the space
the two friends look into each others faces talking.

they shift positions slowly.

minor movements. feet crossed at ankles.
a nod of a head.
eyes cross the room into the dark.
watching and waiting
time to move on
the male couple step into the dark
caught looking

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Painting on the train

I had a couple of long train trips this week (to Leeds and back). On the way up I painted the food I'd bought for the journey with my jar of painting water. On the way back I painted the pringles tube that I use as my paintbrush holder.

Monday, March 10, 2008

watercolour classes

The Creative License is my favourite book on drawing. In it Danny Gregory tells us to
'sign up for art classes, and even if the class sucks keep going to it until you've found another one to go to'.
Tania got me a term's worth of watercolour classes at our local community centre (the Malden Centre) for christmas.

The classes dont' suck. The teacher simply comes up with a theme, sits down at the start of the class, talks through how he is going to draw/paint it, and then lets us get on with our own pictures. Its great fun, and playing around mixing colours is a whole new world for me.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How to manage Fulham

Motivate the team........

Get the tactics right......

Marshall the troops from the bench.........

Trudge back down the touchline after another defeat.......

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Retired Greyhound social walk

Tania organised a walk for owners and walkers of retired greyhounds in Richmond Park a couple of Sundays ago.

Nick and Liz took some beautiful photos (see their whole set here). This is the one they took of Alexa sitting patiently hoping Anna gives her a biscuit. Alexa is quite unusual, most greyhounds never sit (hence it is not worth taking a greyhound to dog training classes).

And here is one they took of everyone outside Isabella plantations.

Alexa loves meeting other greyhounds, and the sun shone, we all really enjoyed it.

At any one time their are about 60 retired greyhounds at the Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare kennels in Hersham, waiting for adoption. The nice thing about the walk is that it brings together greyhounds who have been adopted (and their owners) with hounds who are at the kennels waiting to be adopted (and the kind folks who picked them up and took them out for the day).

Once a year a big event is held called Reach the Beach, where owners and walkers take the hounds down to the beach at West Witterings near Chichester.

Tania and I (in conjunction with Nick and Liz who organise Reach the Beach) have set up a blog called Friends of Hersham Hounds to give news about future events.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The state of the nation

Scene: A stream of workers going into a City office block, opposite Blackfriars station in London

Time: 08:55am Wednesday 6 February 2008

A lady in her early 60s, nicely dressed and coiffured is talking to a younger female companion.

Lady: I think this country started going to the dogs when they got rid of Margaret Thatcher

Man, turning aroung quickly, aged 38, blue jeans, berghaus mac and black rucksack: I'm sorry but I couldn't possibly agree with that

Lady: I wasn't talking to you

Man: I know, but I heard what you said and it went through me like a knife

Lady: Tough

Lady's companion: (in a reassuring voice, as they move away from the man in jeans towards the lift): 'It is obviously a topic that people have strong views about'

Monday, February 04, 2008

Star Wars and Fulham

I saw this post on the Fulham Independent Forum today:

Star Wars: Part VII: The battle for the soul of Fulham Football Club -- George Lucas, Monday, February 04, 11:49:09am (

Glad this battle is now beginning to be won by Roy "Obi-Wan Kenobi" Hodgson and Jimmy "Luke Skywalker" Bullard rather than Lawrie "Darth Vader" Sanchez and the horrendous Death Star he was building at Craven Cottage.

I've got a feeling that, for the rest of the season, the force will be with us...

'Daddy I think you secretly play for Fulham...

...and you don't tell anyone because you don't want to be transfered to another club'

Anna (age 5) to James (aged 38) an hour before Fulham beat Aston Villa 2-1.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Should you be reading this?

I haven't read anything since Sunday evening.

OK, I have read things for work, seen a few headlines over people's shoulders and read the kids a chapter from a star wars book. But I haven't read a book on the train, looked at any blogs, or searched for anything interesting on the internet.

I first did this five years ago, when I read Julie Cameron's great book The Artist's way. Half way through the book Cameron tells us to not to read anything for a whole week. The purpose of the exercise being to stop smothering your own creativity under the weight of other people's writings.

I decided to do the reading break again this week because I was becoming addicted to checking the Independent Fulham Forum to see whether Fulham had signed the human goal machine who is going to help Jimmy Bullard keep us in the premiership.

Abstinence shines a harsh torch on your habits. Each day I would check the forum ten times, read any Fulham report in all the newspapers at work, check the official FFC website, and look at my favourite Fulham blog. I was even picking up both of the crappy free papers that they give away on London streets (and that I had boycotted on environmental grounds) just for the little sentence they give on Fulham every night.

I like Cameron's book because it is direct and stark. She doesn't think creativity is optional, or a hobby. Her book isn't a guide to drawing pretty pictures or writing charming stories. For her the existence of the universe was due to a bold creative act, and we as valued creations of that universe are here to create too.

Our main excuse for not expressing our creativity is that we think we don't have time. As soon as we turn off the dripping tap of things that we do to entertain ourselves, (reading that novel, watching the telly, doing that google search), we are faced with empty chunks of time, staring at us, waiting to be put to use.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Police hand olive branch to Smith

Location: Entrance to 'The world as a stage' exhibition, 3rd floor Tate Modern
Date: Midday, New Year's eve, 2007

Gallery guard (whilst handing me a brochure to the exhibition): Police hand olive branch to Smith
Me: what did you say?
Gallery guard: Police hand olive branch to Smith. This is new, Tino Sehgal, 2003
Me: why did you say that?
Guard: It is Tino Sehgal's work for this exhibition. I choose a headline from a newspaper. I say the headline to the visitor when I hand them their exhibition brochure. If they they something in reply I repeat the headline and add
the words 'This is new, Tino Sehgal, 2003'. If they ask any other questions I can explain the work in any way I like. But mostly people don't say anything, they look at me as if I was mad, or they just walk in.
Me: Why did you chose 'Police hand olive branch to Smith'?
Guard: I was in a rush today so I just picked the first headline I saw. I can pick any headline I like but it has to come from todays paper.
Me: So the headline changes every day then?
Guard: Yes, and if I want to I can change it during the day too. One day I chose the headline 'Bad shoes can cost you your leg' and I had to change it because a lady took offence and asked me whether I thought she was wearing bad shoes. When I used the headline 'free sex parties for tourists' people's ears would always prick up whenever I said the word 'sex', that got a reaction from everyone.
Me: (stepping backwards as I saw a middle-aged lady coming towards the exhibition entrance): thank you for explaining that, have a nice new year.

Guard: (handing an exhibition brochure to the lady): Police hand olive branch to Smith.
Lady: thank you

Two young ladies approach
Guard (handing them each an exhibition brochure): Police hand olive branch to Smith
1st Young lady: sorry, what did you say?
Guard: Police hand olive branch to Smith. This is new, Tino Sehgal.2003
1st young lady: Ahh, right. Thank you