I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be undertaking a residency at 25 Stratford grove this August, where I’ll be working with juggling. We had a brief run-through and experimentation with what you can do with juggling balls and a room full of artists on Sunday, when Carole Luby hosted an artists crit group. We spent some time in the garden, discussing various projects and working on our various sunburns, before heading inside to see a performance piece called “Queer Hope” by David Reynolds.
Arto Polus has some documentation of the day at his website, so please click through for the other serious artists, and a couple of pictures of me throwing balls around.
It was also nice to meet Andrej and Ewelina in person, finally, and I really enjoyed their company during the day. They are doing the Digital Media Mres that I’m now loosely attached to, so it was interesting to hear some other students talking about the course.
Above: Heaton Park, last weekend.
Like I said in my last post, I was back in Newcastle at the weekend. Luck had it that I came back for a scorchingly hot few days, and the local park became full of people. On one side of the park, there were families playing, a bowling green, and a coffee vendor. On the other side of the park, pictured above, there was a horde of students. These students clustered in groups of between two to thirty, and I felt far too intimidated to sit anywhere near all these young people being all hip. So I sat near the bowling green and read my book.
On Monday the weather changed, and the council sent some men to tidy up Heaton park. I was amused to see the leftovers:
Heaton Park is actually quite lovely, when you don’t have to kick half a dozen students out of the way to see the views. But I felt a little left out; I didn’t feel part of this world of young, lazing students, each posse blithely burning the shape of a disposable barbecue into the grass.
Heaton is a student area now, and for all that the council might talk about setting right “student ghettos”, they are ignoring the people like me who have lived on the edges of studenthood for a while. I chose to live in Heaton to get away from the reverse snobbery that other areas in the Tyne and Wear urban conurbation have; Sunderland might be a city, but it doesn’t have anything like Heaton. There’s no nice area with a choice of coffee shops in Gateshead’s Low Fell. There’s no late-night shopping strip in Fenham.
But that weekend, unable to get out of the house for fear of triggering my fatigue, I spent a lot of time looking out of the window. In the main, the people who live in Heaton have somewhere to go. Something to do. Last weekend, they might have been headed to the park to see their friends, but Monday meant that they were back at work, or back in the lecture hall. For me, it seemed like another day of an ongoing holiday.
Huck Scarry’s book “The World Around Us” has a brief introduction, where he talks about seeing the world from the window of his flat in Zurich. From my flat, I could see the inhabitants of Heaton pass by, sometimes headed out, sometimes headed home. The best seat in the flat is the one that lets you people-watch all the busy lives outside the window.
This final picture is of the watering of the bowling green. It was late on Sunday evening, in the magic hour, but still hot. The smell of the water jetting out over the grass was just right after such a long, dry day. We stood and watched the water droplets as they were whipped by the strong wind. For a little while, I’d got out past the window.
I’ve been having an annoying day of dealing with letting agencies, and was feeling pretty grumpy on my way home. As I idled up my street, my eye fell on an odd piece of garbage on the street:
(I’m just too prudish to have it on my front page, but you can click through for NSFW object)
After a brief discussion between me and Alan (“Is that a…?” “Yeah.” “Look, it’s got crusty poo on it!” “That’s not poo, that’s blood.”) we took the above photo to mark the day we found a sex toy loose on the mean streets of Heaton. I’m not sure if that was the correct thing – the object did have blood on it, so perhaps I should have disposed of it safely. In a biohazard site, or something. I have nightmare images of a dog chewing it.
However, that wasn’t even the strangest thing I found. One street over, I found a 110 volt hammer drill sticking out of a skip. Considering these things retail at around £200, it seemed odd to just chuck it in the skip when you’ve finished renovating a house. They did take the plug off it before disposing of it – as if plugs were the expensive part of power tools.
I really wonder what’s going on that I could find these two disparate objects discarded in my neighbourhood. I am, however, the proud owner of a (probably broken) 110v hammer drill. Yay!
Some people suggested that I combine the two found objects. However, I have a personal rule not to take home blood-encrusted sex toys that I find in the street. I didn’t know that I had this as a personal rule until today, but you have to admit it makes a lot of sense.
Infinite Summer is a group reading of the novel Infinite Jest. I’m slowing myself down from speeding through that book with my high reading speed, sometimes by reading other things, sometimes – as this weekend – by drinking and going to barbecues in the sun and small country pubs. This weekend truly felt like there was an infinite amount of summer to go around.
As you might know, I’ve moved house. This new house I live in has a cat, which I’m looking after tonight.
So, the first chance it gets, the cat does a runner and I’m left shaking the box of cat kibbles in the back garden and feeling like an idiot. Ten minutes go by, then twenty, and then an hour, until I’m left thinking shit, the cat’s disappeared, the landlord’s going to come back and freak, and I’ll have to move out because it’ll be horribly awkward living with people who think I killed their cat. Well, it would, right?
I decided to go out and search for the cat. Turning round the front street, past the mosque, I go and check out the garages round the back. It’s dark, and I’ve got my grandfathers maglite in my hand. Oh, and the streets on fire.
That’s it, I think, I let the cat out and vandals obviously set it on fire. It’s not a great excuse, but at least it’s not my fault this time. Anyway, being a conscientious citizen I call the fire brigade, who come and put the fire out (everything else was just smoldering by this point, like the skip two doors down). I head back, and Masie the cat is finally ready to come in.
I had to buy a new helmet, because my old one broke when I was going round the corner near Heaton Park Road (actually, the junction at Heaton Hall Road and Wandsworth Road) and did a huge swerve to avoid some numpty riding a downhill bike. I mounted the pavement and ended up gently crashing to the floor in a tangle of skinned elbows and bouncing craniums.
Whilst I was fine physically, it would have been nice if the idling taxi driver parked nearby could have checked on me, as I lay on the pavement looking dazed. It would have been even nicer if my fellow cyclist, who I swerved to avoid, had done a little more than turn his head to check on me. But I don’t expect any signs of intelligence from taxi drivers or people who ride downhill bikes in city areas.
My new helmet is manly, huge enough to fit my bonce, and comes in lovely 1980′s colours. It’s difficult to not buy a new helmet when you prang yourself and find a bad-ass crack down the back of your old helmet, and I’d like to thank the manager of my local Edinburgh cycles for taking the time out to help me find a helmet accomadating enough for my cranium. Because, in all modesty, my head is fecking massive.