Springing into Friday Fun

Kicking off these week’s fun are a few more London delights. Firstly, a mental challenge for all those who consider themselves to be London aficionados – can you identify 21 London ‘landmarks’? Now, the definition of ‘landmark’ is rather broad, but it’s a diverting 5 minutes! [I scored 16 out of 21, my incorrect answers largely being the result of mis-identifying glass windows and spurious statues…]

Another challenge (or a sheer delight) are these hand-drawn maps of Westminster by Jojo Oldham, who’s embarking on a project to map each of London’s boroughs, as well as one to map the ‘people’s Britain’. So much detail…

Jojo City of Westminster 5This illustration demonstrates just how close to the Camden-Westminster border I live.

Talking of maps, there is a huge amount of (educational) fun to be had with the fabulous addition of the Ordnance Survey town plan of 1893-6 to Google Maps. Choose your location, and see it transform from 2014 to late 19th century. Utterly fascinating. Here’s a snapshot of my current parish, which on the one hand doesn’t seem to have changed much, yet really has…

Holborn, 1890sHolborn, 1890’s

Obligatory London Transport fun is provided this week by Tubographical Transactions by Yangchen Lin, a photographic exhibition on show at the Subway Gallery 14-22 March. A host of photos that take a slightly different perspective on life on the tube, including tube pants (not a photo I’m sharing here). Londonist features several of the photos, of which these were favourites:

Damian_Lewis_Covent_Garden_station-L-749x500

Oval_tube_station_spiral_stair-L-750x500

Finally, some Oscars-related fun. Amusingly, I had something in this theme ready to share last week – but when compiling last week’s Fun, I became the second person in my family to succumb to the mistake of thinking that the last weekend in February and first weekend in March were not the same thing. [i.e. this time last week, March 2nd seemed a lot further away than 2 days, what with my brain forgetting how short February is.] So, first off, here are children recreated the key plot points of each of the films nominated for Best Picture:

I particularly loved how they chose to deal with 12 Years a Slave…

As for the night itself, obviously there was the most-retweeted-tweet-ever, but for me, there were two key moments. One was obviously what has now become known as the Cumberbomb, which prompted a brilliant article about how Cumberbatch basically ‘won’ the Oscars – which a classmate showed me during Monday’s lecture, but which I now cannot find, despite scouring the internet. Trust me, it was excellent…

The other was John Travolta incomprehensibly getting Idina Menzel’s name badly, badly wrong when announcing her performance of what ended up winning Best Song (Let It Go, as featured here a couple of weeks ago). Since his gaff, we’ve been able to Travoltafy our names and Idina has soared to the level of fame she ought have had some time ago. (Some argue that this gaff will be the making of her.) She responded to interview questions about it simply by saying “Let it go…” and the Broadway production in which she’s currently starring did this:

Adele Dazeem on Broadway

Adele, sorry, Idina also went on the Jimmy Fallon show and performed the aforementioned song with him and the Roots band – it’s worth watching, it may not be quite what you expect:

Oscar winners, fathers and a train to Eastbourne

Congratulations Colin Firth! Finally an Oscar winner.

[I wrote this post on Sunday and typed that line in complete faith but with a slight fear that it would jinx him.]
I’ve just spend the weekend away with church people in Eastbourne – aka retired people central – and my primary purpose of being there was to help lead the student group. This role meant that on Friday evening, me and another leader had the job of ensuring that four students safely made it from London to the coast. He sorted out the things like where we’d meet (helpfully deciding on ‘under a departure board’, when there are two at Victoria…) and what time train we’d get, but once on the move, he stuck his headphones in and I was left to the endless banter of excited youth. (One of whom was super hyper thanks to having consumed three coffees. Hmph.) 
To be honest, I’d be just the same with a group of my friends, but in the midst of a dreary Friday evening commuter train, it was quite hilarious. I’m pretty sure that the man wearing a purple crotched tie heard someone’s stage whispers of “Look! That man’s wearing a crotched purple tie!”, but luckily he didn’t show any sign of it. What did attract the attention of our fellow passengers was a conversation on the topic of the newly crowned Best Actor… 
I was telling how a guy had asked me earlier in the week if I found Colin Firth hot – I’d replied saying that I didn’t think he was the hottest actor in The King’s Speech (Guy Pearce, playing the abdicating monarch, would have to take that credit), nor did I generally find him that attractive, but I did love him in Bridget Jones. [Also, and this may shock readers, but I’ve never got the Pride & Prejudice thing, probably because I’ve never actually watched the series. I know, I know. Yell at me when you see me.] In my defence, I have what has been referred to as ‘unconventional’ taste in men…
The student girls disagreed vigorously with my views, and one went on to say “I used to really like Colin Firth, but then he started to remind me of my Dad, so that was weird.”  At which point the total stranger sat next to me piped up with “Can I meet your Dad? Sorry to interrupt, but I love Colin Firth and I couldn’t help hearing what you were talking about!” [For those interested, the father in question isn’t single and apparently doesn’t actually look much like Firth, it’s more of a subtle similarity.] We went on to bond with this lady to the extent that she was even included in our Percy Pig sharing circle.

To all other passengers in carriage 11 on the 18.06 train from Victoria on Friday night, I apologise profusely for the noise, raucous laughter and general inappropriateness that disturbed your journey home. 

As an aside, Eastbourne was lovely when the sun shone – less lovely when being battered by torrential rain. Plus, the beach was closed for maintenance (they needed to re-arrange the pebbles) – what’s that about? 

Not so bleary eyed

As I’ve got a presentation with some distinguished members of staff this morning, it’s probably just as well that I’m not in the state that past mornings after the Academy Awards have found me. Watching the highlights brought back memories of past ceremonies when the sun dawned finding me even more bleary-eyed than usual.

Back in the day, when the BBC showed the Oscars live, it became something of a tradition to stay up and watch the whole thing – it became an endurance event akin to the marathon.

The year James Cameron did a little better than he did last night (1999 – Titanic year) my school friends and I held an Oscars party in a house conveniently close to school. If memory serves me correctly, we ate a lot of jelly (with jelly babies suspended within it) and one particularly eager friend made up a hugely complicated points system based on how many categories we correctly guessed the winners of… [To think, other 17 year olds would simply have got drunk!] It’s a miracle we made it into school the next morning, though I suspect I was keen to be at my triple American politics lesson…

A few years later, determination to complete this feat helped to cement my friendship with Ian [3 weeks till he’s in England – yay!]. We struggled to stay awake whilst sat on the world’s most uncomfortable sofas (wooden arms – eurghh!) and he caved significantly earlier than I did. In fact, I know for a fact that by the time I went to bed it was light and the building’s cleaners were already in.

The thing is, I think the key to successfully completing this marathon is to care about the results. I know that it doesn’t really matter and that the winning movies/actors aren’t necessarily the best, but you probably need to have watched the majority of front runners in order to have a modicum of opinion.

This is where I would fail – big time – this year. The only film I’d watched that made it into any of the categories was the latest Harry Potter (nominated for best cinematography). [I did also watch almost an hour of In the Loop last night, which was nominated for best adapted screenplay, but I don’t think that really counts.]

I am shocked and appalled at myself. I do love films, but I’m not massively keen on cinemas and I think I’m at the point where Avatar‘s hype is going to cement a stubborn will in me never to see it. My useful and local friend with whom I watch most films moves to California in a matter of weeks, so I will actually need to motivate myself if I’m ever to hold my own in film conversation again…

Maybe this time next year I’ll be capable of an intelligent piece of prose detailing the pros and cons of the various nominees. Maybe…

[And also, it just me, or is anyone else having a hard time coming to terms with Sandra – Miss Congeniality – Bullock winning Best Actress? Or is it just because The Proposal left such a bad taste in my mouth??]