Thursday, 28 April 2011


So I'm spotified. All it takes is Julie to pop out for some reason or another and a bottle of whisky before a visit to mum and dad tomorrow, plus a bit of evening sunshine. So it's as below, plus of course the most awful bands I hate to like when I'm spotified. Simple Minds are possibly the worst, but I do remember them resounding across Lake Garda one evening about ten years ago sun setting etc, just the most magnificent thump across the water. I defy anyone not love the chunka chunka chunka guitar bit in Alive and Kicking (but of course we should respect the drummer more). Of course the lead singer's a twat.
What to play next? (I'm rockin' man) When else do you get the chance to listen to 'Waterfront'?
Come in come out of the rain- utter bollocks - but brilliant. I could easily fall off my designer (Dutch 1960's SS with peach uphol) chair if it didn't have nice designer arms.
Next it's the Passions 'I'm in Love with a German Film Star' bloody brilliant. Hope the neighbours approve. I always think I'm educatin'. What next? Refill the drink...and it's Gordon Lightfoot's 'Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald'. Non drinkers will not understand this. Once I was in a tent on the top of some hills in Scotland in a force 10 gale with a couple of Liverpudlian girls for warmth and that song played on our tiny little radio. I think it was the Cheviots.
Of course, to follow, a live version of 'Back in the Saddle Again' Aerosmith's finest hour.
I'll conclude with Killing Joke (Requiem) the loudest band I ever heard...or maybe some 'Sisters'


I appear to be on a bit of a frenzy on e-bay- for old records- LP's as we used to call them. I feel they need to be snapped up- so all those record's I almost bought, or listened to as stoned as we could get in each other's bedrooms, are suddenly back in focus. How about a bit of Focus! or an original Hawkwind 'In Search of Space' with a kind of exploding cover, latterly a bit of Joe Satriani (blue dream) or Rush (obviously). It's all down to the new shelves.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I've had it with diagrams

I've had it with diagrams. I was sitting there in a meeting yesterday as it was explained that this rectangle represented a 'cloud' and exaggerated sets inside it 'centres'. It doesn't really matter what else it might have meant, but probably, if followed through, some misery to me at least having to fit in one or another of said catagories. Diagrams are abstract, but they attempt to define in basic terms, so if they are wrong, then you are in real trouble. However, architects love bloody diagrams for some reason, they can look a bit thoughtful and imaginative. But what happens if they are actually totally misleading? Maybe there is no need for a diagram at all! (I'd like to be able to draw you a diagram of my research methods but it's so obvious I'm not going to bother).
So I said
'Cloud is not a good name'
This is because cloud becomes cloudy which is vague and indistinct and you can't see through it and it signifies bad beer at best. It also implies rain and shadow and 'lonely as'.
Then I said
'And anyway that is not a drawing of a cloud, which should, diagram wise, be fluffy with rounded perimeters intersecting. You've drawn a pitch, maybe a field!'
This would seem to me to be the justification for my needing to leave the meeting early.
When plotting futures, which may indeed be murky, at least be careful with your words and lines.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Royal Wedding Balls

Bethnal Green is alive with elaborate plans to avoid the Royal Wedding at all costs. Julie and I have got ourselves an 11am train out of Kings Cross, Scott and Vanessa have gone further, an eight hour bus ride up to Scotland, anything not to have to suffer it and it's nauseating commentary. Much to the shock of seemingly everybody familywise, this house is not royalist (we just can't stand it) but we find ourselves in interesting company; Planet Rock have just advised that they won't broadcast anything with a whiff of Windsor about it on Friday- probably Hell's Bell's will find itself on the playlist, D. I. V. O. R. C. E maybe? I'm rather hoping for some dissent, like Goth Day at Disneyland when they all wear their black and snarl at Snow White.
I notice another epicentre of agony is happening at the EXCELL centre at the same time in docklands; the infernal Grand Designs show. I cannot imagine a room much worse than one full of hopeful couples planning their dream houses and looking for correspondence courses in project management whilst perusing turf fucking roofs. I would immediately find myself in the bar where no doubt fiesty Bulgarian chicks doll out semi lethal mojitos to the desperately realistic.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Will Self rather good

A quote from the LRB on our return from St Albans (land of the mentally dead and financially not too bad thank you very much). The excellent Will Self on some fucking half wit's idea of a good place called Aerotropolis (throughly Chicago School of MEconomics, thoroughly to be despised by all good people (not those listening to Yes Songs):
'After trekking through Dubai you don't have to be a Platonist to conclude that anything that aesthetically revolting must not simply be amoral, but bad.'
Subscribe to London Review of Books you clever folk.
So good to be home in my chair with accessories.


WoaH WOAH!! (The David Lee Roth volume is also a book to be read in one sitting preferably playing 'Panama' repeatedly at full volume). The crazy bastard wont let you go. It's F16 with afterburners all the way, it's Leerjet Hercules- the godlike Roth, the leopard skinned loincloth in stratospheric ascent, and stratospheric sort of descent (JUMP!) no mmmmention of druggggggs hardly at all, Just a gigolo man, in a low-rider, down the fucking Amazon without a paddle, it's bones, bandages, bondage all the way, and the guy makes a point of washing every inch of the stage on his hands and knees before a tour just by himself to 'get perspective' 'create spiritual balance' hell I don't know. Whatever it is he is, it's wonderful thing.
He also points out, between eulogies to Al Jolson and the Bee Gees (!!), that Aeroskiths (sic - there is a problem here you might start speaking a la Roth and no longer be comprehended by anyone at all) best record is 'Back in the Saddle' from 'Rocks', and I agree, the godlike Roth is right, starfighter, shooting star...whatever.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

White Line Fever

Lemmy's book is very good. Appropriate to the title it should ideally be read in one sitting with the sun shining as it is today, but with the blinds down, and appropriate liquid refreshment through the afternoon. It is the most straight forward rock and roll biography you can imagine, and the word sanguine comes to mind continually when it comes to his view on life so far. Lemmy was never rescued by aristocrats, rock or otherwise (marking him rather above Keef in this respect) and has simply tread the boards, the real rock and roll cowboy, hating suits, the business, having a laugh with his mates, leading the band, turning up on time, sacking those who lost it, being sacked, doing the shit. It turns out he wasn't turfed out of Hawkwind for being a poor bass player, but for doing the wrong drugs, and funnily enough, the one thing Lemmy does not wallow around in the text here, is anything to do with drugs, because, one assumes, speed is just part of his way, and therefore irrelevant to the real concerns of the day- which is usually 'putting on a good show'. This is an extremely astute textual move, and most refreshing in itself.
Now I'm going back on e-bay to see if I should really buy that vintage copy of 'Space Ritual'.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


So we're back to the metropolis which, to be honest feels weirder than ever. Still, a little lunchtime drink with Scott to discuss 'the snuff movie with a treatise on ethics in the middle' where 'the hero is entirely absent most of the time sulking on a beach' (The Illiad) was good, and anything might flow from there. Also Amazon delivered two other books to cheer the holidays;
David Lee Roth's particularly Olympian 'Crazy from the Heat' and Lemmy's more prosaic 'White Line Fever' can't wait to enjoy them both, with ancient classical references in mind of course.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


We have to return home from Guernsey tomorrow. We must thank all the staff at The Imperial Hotel, Pleinmont, Paul Langlois Architects (plus Anne, Hanna and James) and the Sunday staff at Princess Elizabeth Hospital, oh, and our cab driver, oh and everybody who threw things in to the sea for their dogs to chase while I was staring out of the window, helpful bus drivers, enthusiastic Nazi monument restorers, sellers of 'Guernsey Pearl', people who still run vintage cars and motorbikes, and makers of crab sandwiches almost everywhere. It was most restful.


No doubt about it, Guernsey has the finest hospital known to mankind. You get smoothly chauffeur driven down in to dingly dell by a taxi driver with bedside manner, and there's this bright new building awaiting. There are no customers in A&E, just a smiling receptionist who just says she'll send you the bill. The atmosphere is light, bright, caring. You are seen by a smiling chirpy doctor and her smiling chirpy colleagues within seconds, they are even disappointed your allergic reaction doesn't demand immediate windpipe surgery, for it would brighten their day. Instead they are giggling and generally enthusiastic about looking at your balls. You pass the time of day as if chatting in the pub, they listen, then doll out the drugs and worry about the state of your sandals (it all started this time with itchy feet). From in to out laden with my goodie bag of pills and ointments, half an hour. All of this is about as far removed from a visit to the Royal as I can imagine.
Mind you, I was £266 lighter, which given my good mood, merely made me ponder just how expensive the NHS must be and to be more thankful for it.
Of course it's clear, Guernsey is also a place where nobody's ill.
It's also fairly clear I'm allergic to mint sauce.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Large format

Girded our loins this morning to photograph the financial district on a large format, head under the black cloth, camera. The camera itself is very fiddly, but the job itself was a piece of cake since there's nobody there on a saturday, and even the passing policemen think that with such kit, you must be taking promotional photographs. In fact you just get to witness, over quite a long period of time (the fiddling takes time) the shear mediocrity of it's physical presence. You really know architecture has gone to hell in these situations, you are confronted by it's awfulness for hours. I kept saying to Julie, 'No this view makes it look even more banal' and 'banal' is not often a word I like using, because simply everything is interesting, it's just that this stuff, this 21st century finance meets heritage show, seems just mind-bogglingly sad, and that's what makes the financial industry interesting, they value money, lots of it, and nothing else. Got it in one.

Friday, 15 April 2011


Seeing old friends after 28yrs can be fraught with danger, especially if (as it were from a standing start of twenty eight year ago fitness levels) one friend has matured in to a nimble mountain goat and the other into a lover of chairs, preferably his own, and the watching of WW2 documentaries while sipping a large one. So our 'excursion' today in search of the 'second best beach cafe in the world' was touched by a) my silent concerns about the word cafe and b) what appeared not in the least bit a gentle five minute stroll through 'Bluebell Wood', but the gradual realization of a decent into the unknown down and up and up and down the very steep worthy of JRR Tolkien and the advent of cliffs. Luckily, the friend is used to handling children, and for all I know hobbits (ie never telling them the truth about the rigours of any impending encounter and relying on their general wide eyed innocence) and therefore thoroughly (but unintentionally I'm sure) misrepresented this as a 'little stroll' which had, within fifty steps, Julie howling with laughter at my sudden predicament (despite the abundance of pretty bluebells).
However we eventually made it, and the cafe thankfully turned out not strictly to be a cafe, and our swift footed Achilles even raced back up to get the car to rescue us from a dreaded, actually physically impossible as far as I was concerned, return trip.
The dangers of such 28yr old re-acquaintances are of course mitigated by the gradual realization that even after all this time not much has really changed. Circumstances, choices, of course, but not that mysterious bonding of individuals that makes them friends in the first place (especially in the general adversity that was Bristol University). These great mysteries are worthy of the greatest literature, which is why I am now safely sitting at our open hotel window in the sunshine watching (and listening to) the waves break again and again and quite happily reading The Illiad.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hotel Food

When you stay in a remote British seaside hotel for a while, just one of the things you go back to is the experience of a child aged around nine. He remembers the thrill of choosing each night from the fixed menu, an experience that you have hopefully long forgotten amidst the freedoms of adulthood. You also experience non-stop eighties classics over the local radio station, and curious re-adaptations of your expectations of 'Full English Breakfast', which always has to consist of the maximum number of the worst tasting ingredients, and this day after day, turns in to a kind of game. After one day of 'Full English' you decide on just 'Bacon and Egg' which comes out as, just one slice of bacon and one fried egg. The next you try and play the system asking for scrambled egg (needs more eggs+butter)- very bad idea- unless you specify scrambled egg non microwaved to oblivion to the texture of Bisto granules. Still, even this remains entertaining, and I would recommend this particular hotel to anyone.
Meanwhile, this is a small island, and we received a very funny message today from our friend here to tell us 'You were spotted yesterday in town'. Now this has certainly put the heebie geebies up Ms Bernstein. I mean, she was only photographing a few investment bank doorways.
Holidays can be such fun, even as adults it can feel just like the Famous Five.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


So we're in a kind of paradise, a long windswept beach with nobody much around, you look out of the hotel room and look at the waves, and then stare at what passes for a road, and think this is the kind of place they should make vintage cars compulsory. They said to us, Guernsey is like Jersey, but quieter. That's fine, I can look at waves for hours.
But there is also something of a Mike Davis 'evil paradise' about it (look up his book). For one they don't grow tomatoes here anymore (despite ideal climate) the place is littered with derelict glasshouses, they don't breed many Guernsey cows either (nomatter what CountryFile might say) they don't need to, because what they have is the Financial Industries. Bankers strut around St Peter's Port like the Nazi's used to in their uniforms (oh you'd be blessed to be a Nazi stationed here, you'd not believe your luck- this or the Eastern Front?) There are '184' investment companies here said the helpful pub landlord- 'just around the corner' in a new replica, anonymous quarter of St Peter's Port whose only visibility is the brass plaques on the plate glass doors. The reason is straightforward, this where the 0.1% of the population make their 13% of our total wealth (in the old day's 1% made 8% or thereabouts).
It's interesting to snoop around a bit, Julie feels all Woodward and Bernstein. But this is all strictly legal, you just have to know how to do it or know the right people in the City of London who know how to do it. For all I know they are doing it for me.
But there you go, just like paradise (beware of imitations).

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Just Awful

I knew something was wrong when I made my way back from the Trench having lost vast sums on the Grand National. First there was one, then another, then a whole cue of them at the cash point. This turns out to be the 'Bexhill Tweed Run' people, currently camping out with their vintage bicycles on the green infront of my window playing Vera Lynn at considerable volume. What the fuck is wrong with these people is very hard to fathom. Julie, on encountering this bunch of twits, nearly wet herself, since of course, I wear tweed, and she still can't stop laughing. Me, I'm horrified. They wear little bows at the top of their plum coloured plus fours and probably work in 'New Media' and probably think spending the afternoon on my green is 'jolly nice'.
But I am sitting in a nice new chair, actually not exactly new, 1960's Dutch, Jonathan assured me. Every time I go to the White Horse and Lily's dancing things go a little strange, in this case me making off with valuable items of designer furniture from Jonathan's gallery after she had engaged me in a conversation of sorts about phallocentricity in Freud. No matter the limits of this conversation given the fact that she periodically danced naked infront of me, it was at least better than my morning at the RCA, where the work was dreadful, and the students clearly offended by my coments, and the food, even in their poncy senior common room, disgusting. Whatever, I ended up laden down with vintage chair and lamp to get over it all, but at least not vintage 1914, like those twats over my balcony.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


With the worrisome instinct us critics have, I'm suddenly worried that U2's 'Still Haven't Found...bla bla ad nauseum' is actually a Suzanne Vega derivative with a bit of howling and a bit of effects peddle.


I've just put 'Cracking' on the phono and almost cried. I notice we have two copies of Suzanne Vega's first record in our home, and it's no surprise. And I have a suspicion it might rank as our biggest influence, beyond all the macho lovely stuff I prattle on about (would anybody agree that Bad Company were the biggest ever 'cock rock' band?- sounds stupid doesn't it- so get some sensitivity boys) In the end, in the mid eighties, Suzanne's wonderful 'swings of indecision' were what we all were, all 'actors on a movie screen', preferably noir and absolutely introspective and my god were we sensitive. Nobody captured it better, and nobody 'talked about it later' although that's not true, because that's what we did, we talked about it before we even did it, to the accompaniment of this record. She was a smooth Joni. Freeze tag in the dark. Didn't really do me any good, but I still like it.


I only had one tutorial to do today so I soon scampered off, but only as far as Liverpool St because I was thirsty and the sun was out and everything felt good and 'Woodin's Shades' has a good window seat or two, so you can sit there for hours if you like watching the city pass by in between it's machinations drilling up debt we don't understand. I'm just sitting there looking at the city tits and arse of course.
But in such delightful circumstances, thoughts float to the surface over Stella Black (I'm not sure this is a good marketing ploy in the UK, too close to Cilla Black). I smiled at the recollection of a certain Andrea, a woman with tits beyond compare, and a night in an Oxford hotel room where I fell asleep on her lap. It was in the early nineties. Now these things happen all the time no doubt to all of you, but this occasion was a bit special, for Andrea is the only woman who has actually written to me to thank me for my endeavours that night (and I hope I've kept it somewhere) and if that can't bring a smile to the face of the old boy once in a while, nothing can. You could laugh and laugh and laugh, especially when the numpties from Fitness First in uniforms and sunglasses outside the window are setting up their promotional stall on a broken wallpaper table, and furnishing it with promotional mugs and promotional flags and all the rest of the tat, and then taking photos of themselves on their mobile phones as if this was some kind of achievement.
Wherever you are Andrea, my turn for thanks from the heart.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Lee Roth again

OK, so as night follows day, I'm now sitting at my desk (and my desk includes all the audio stuff- it takes up half the space even though I've cleaned up) and GUESS WHAT! Fucking David Lee Roth's 'Just like Paradise' is spinning in front of me at precisely at 33.3rpm- I can actually see it spinning- what a JOY! and it sounds fucking fantastic (not played for a long long time). After all I just spent £650 on some shelves (thanks Scott!) just to get the record collection up off the floor where I assume most record collections end up (that or in the second bedroom if you're lucky enough to have one).
So that, to me, and to those of a certain age, is meaningful design; get those old LP's at EYE LEVEL at whatever cost, and SKYSCRAPE again. You'll never listen to those gems again until you invest correctly. It also helps if you've organizing your home you can cook Keith Richard's shepherds pie and listen to Lee Roth at volume and, just on the side, have Babestation on the TV.
Julie will of course come home and insist on the Bunnymen.


Nearly the end of term, time to clear up my desk at home, give it a little dust over, leave the concerns of hamsterdom to one side, hang a B&W 10/8 photo of seventies porn star Fiona Richmond on the wall (she was a vicars daughter, hung out with Malcolm Allison- then flamboyant manager of Crystal Palace- famous for his fur coats) sit and admire it; she's clearly in the sun somewhere wearing nothing but a silver trinket or two, a big cane hat, and the obligatory cigar. It's the sort of 'Topless Grand Prix Cote d'Azure' number of great style picked up for next to nothing on e-bay. Yes and I know the Cote D'Azure is a shithole, but a bit of seventies romance does nobody any harm, and it was probably shot on the Costa Blanca.
Then mix a large one, sit in my arm chair (which by the way, is just like Aalto's) listen to the ticking of the new Finnish clock in the kitchen (actually an attractive piece of old Finnish plank with a bit of battery powered assistance- perfect) reminisce on Finnish experiences like almost dying in snow, and find the Quiller Memorandum showing on the TV, a classic piece of poor Odessa File, and just right for lunchtime viewing. Oh the peace.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

So You Think...

So will the future of our education be some kind of 'So You Think You Can Be an Architect?' reality show, with star judges and utterly formularized, with immediate golden tickets? (Errr.... a bit like the Bartlett)
If so, it would be in complete implosion of any kind of 'real' education. I never became an architect registered with the RIBA, but I have never stopped studying architecture. All the people I have learnt from taught me precisely that; that it takes time to develop judgement. Judgement demands values, any kind of 'criticism' demands the critic has values to divest, those values can only be learnt over time with considerably diverse inputs, often long after something like a degree or diploma has been achieved.
The value of architectural education is it asks you to know a little about a lot of things. You don't necessarily know how to build a brick wall, but you must be able to appreciate how it might be done well. In this sense it not specialized in a professional way as demonstrated in such an imaginary but none the less hideous 'So you think you can be an architect?' show. Rather on the contrary, I know 'architects' who've become journalists, editors, film makers, set designers, pornographers, shop fitters, painters, rock musicians, lap dancers, web entrepreneurs etc etc ad nauseum.
I hope students will continue to want to study architecture, even if the powers that be will find less use for architects (just think about it- perhaps because we should and ought to need less buildings) and even if it becomes more expensive. If this scenario played itself out in any rational way, it would not be the schools of architecture that should suffer, but the RIBA itself, simply down to irrelevance.