The Dr Who experience

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So HEF, you won't remember this but when you were wee you were totally obsessed with Dr Who. You begged and pleaded for what must have been ages for Nicki and I to take you to the Dr Who experience in Cardiff (a town v distant from your home in London). Well, it finally happened so I thought I'd post this green-screen shot to remind you of the day.

Durufle Requiem

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Wow, you don't see your daughter on-stage at the Royal Festival Hall everyday...

Really good evening tonight, N, HEF and I headed down to see CLF's choir (Finchley Children's Music Group Chamber Choir fcmg.org.uk) in full flight doing Duruflé's Requiem standing in front of the most massive organ (which has been recently restored). Great evening:-)

Hunger Games art direction

Still from "The Hunger Games"

CLF demanded we watch "Catching Fire" just now and I was reminded of a thought I had while watching the first film in the Hunger Games series. The frame above is taken from "The Hunger Games" and happens rights at the start as we are introduced to the main character.

It's a still life that lasts a couple of seconds and is part of a painful but beautiful scene-setting: soot-coated men walking back from the mines; children barefoot and dirty playing in the wasteland; an old toothless man fighting chicken bones are all images that describe the poverty and suffering of "District 12", the lead's homeland.

I remember thinking how wonderful this scene-setting was as it referenced historical touch-points that resonate.

Hunger Games with Dorothea Lange photograph

This particular portrait made me think of Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" photographs taken for the Farm Security Administration in February 1936. I never actually compared the two at the time but after seeing Catching Fire I went back and compared the images. I just love the effort that went into getting that just right:-)

Powerful stuff, and the anger one feels at poverty and injustice is made all the more tangible by the art direction.

I started riding motorcycles as a kid (Motobécane bien rouillé et la Peugeot 104... ahh mobilettes de mon enfance) but my parents wouldn't have it.

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Things started in earnest once I left home with my first 'proper' bike, a 1975 Bultaco Sherpa bought from a farmer in Cairns. After that, I lived and traveled with Baby, a black KZ1000J2. I still remember the first night I saw her. Took a bus to way the hell out in New Jersey somewhere and looked at her in the guy's driveway. He turned the key and the dash lights light up the open garage with this glow. I just had to have her:-)

When I moved to the UK in 1988 Baby took the boat to Liverpool. When she eventually gave up the ghost I bought another Classic Jap (Z400 - it behaved like a triumph, used to lose its mufflers in corners) and eventually ended up discovering the BMW GS. The GS was great, it focused on the journey, always getting through to its destination, a bike to drive around the world on. I wanted to be able to ride reliably, not having to switch to a car when a bit of rain started. It wasn't light or fast but it handled beautifully, had great brakes and a very low center of gravity (thank you opposed twin) and was comfortable even on multi-hour motorway trips.

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I've now owned three GSes and have been riding them for Fourteen years. The most recent one was a 2006 R1200GS Adventure, the basic GS with knobblies, a taller first gear, poor quality fuel chipping, luggage, tall windscreen, headlamp protectors and aux lights. Lovely thing, rode it every day, rain or shine. It did particularly well in the snow.

Also, at this point if you've made it here after Googling R1200GS I should thank Kevin and Steve at SBW Motorrad in Hertforshire who have looked after me with love and care (and high-reliability servicing for many years:-)

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So in January I was hit by a car doing a u-turn. I was on life support for a week and it was pretty intense. I had a brain contusion from where (I've reconstructed) my head impacted the car's roof (thank you Mr Shoei, I'd not be here without your good efforts), eight ribs (including #1) were broken in multiple places (leaving me with several flail segments) as well as a collarbone shattered into 5 pieces and a torn lung and resulting hemothorax--nasty that, once your lung is punctured you can't breath and your chest cavity fills with fluid and you die very quickly if the first responders don't make it to you quickly. As it happened, my accident happened right behind a fire station so my treatment was ace:-)

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So after riding a bike for many many years it looks like I'm going to hang up my helmet for a few years (until the kids are grown?) and buy my first car. Normally I'm not a big fan of cars so I was trying to find a four-wheel equivalent to my trusty GS. I can't drive right now because of my injuries but hopefully I will soon and so I thought I'd give one of these a home:

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We'll see how it works out. We're off to the beach this summer so hopefully this thing will manage a bunch of little people with canoes and bicycles:-)

Saying "No"

Love this:-) Jason Santa Maria on saying no

I spoke on a topic that's become very near and dear to my heart in the past few years: saying "no". It might be saying no to a project or job, or even something that you think you can't say no to, but finding the strength to set your own priorities for what you want is one of the most crucial things you can do in life.

Saturdays with no fencing

Saturday with CLF--we saw many things this afternoon.

We looked at the Phoenix in East Finchley (C saw The Muppets there earlier this year)

We looked at giraffes in Regents Park (and their giraffe-shaped doors)

We looked at Hamleys (just the outside, we were on a budget today)

We looked at Eros in Piccadilly Circus (and lots of tourists and billboards)

We looked at Nelson's column (from the back) and wondered about all the extra police and Pall Mall being partially closed (I figured it was the Save our hospitals No to privatisation march but not sure where the Department of Heath was. Didn't fancy getting kettled with CLF as she's not a fan of crowds). The police may have been there to keep an eye on the Morris dancers but we couldn't be sure...

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We looked at Vincent's yellow chair then walked around the museum. Had a couple of good "what can you see" observation things with good spotting of scallop shells, keys, scythes, cats and canaries. Stopped at Degas, Gustave Moreau, Seurat (Bathers at Asnières 1884) and tested the leather couch in front of Hogarth's The Graham Children (1742). Loads to figure out if you just sit there and look (does the cat behind the chair ready to pounce on the canary foretell future conflict that might endanger the children in the picture? Is the pram handle on the floor supposed to suggest a fallen sceptre?).

At which point we hopped back on the bike and chased a stretch limo around Trafalgar Square. Three girls leaning out the window (that smelt like cleaning fluid) doing their best to ignore us.

We looked at Buckingham Palace, the Serpentine, Baker Street, St John's Wood high Street and stopped at the crepe stand in Hampstead. Picked up flowers for Nicki from the stand at the Spaniards and back to Whetstone.

All in all, nice to be hanging out and looking at the world go by. So CLF, what shall we do next week?