Travelling: London - Livre d'Or — LiveJournal

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Travelling: London
Thursday, 22 September 2005 at 09:13 pm
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I've had a very fun couple of days, with good people.

Thanks to midnightmelody for organizing a really excellent evening discussing Laws of Nature with Prof Lipton. I am also grateful to LJ for making it possible to get together a group of 7 people, none of whom knew all six others, to attend cool events.

The format of the "Dinner @ Dana" concept is very well thought out: you turn up, eat soup, hear the speaker for 20 minutes, eat the main course, and then there's an hour for discussion. This made it into a real discussion rather than just a talk with a couple of token questions. It helped that we were a group of intellectuals who didn't really know eachother, so the actual subject matter of the talk was the obvious topic over dinner. It also helped that Prof Lipton is a fantastic speaker and really good at getting people engaged with his topic. He also managed the discussion with real flair.

Lots of interesting ideas and examples: I liked the formulation of asking the difference between there is no solid gold sphere more than 100 miles in diameter, and there is no solid uranium sphere more than 100 miles in diameter. At our table we had some good discussion about the difference between the (putative) laws that actually describe the universe and the laws that scientists can deduce.

Generally, it was a really fun way to spend an evening, and in excellent company. Everybody present told me I need to come to karen2205's Coffee in Borders at some point, which seems like a good idea to me. Do any of the regular attendees want to suggest a particular date when they're likely to be there and / or offer me crash space in London?

On this occasion I stayed over with blue_mai; there are few people in the world I feel as comfortable around as her, so we had a lovely conversation. And she caught me up on gossip about mutual acquaintances and fed me tea and it was thoroughly lovely evening. *bounce*

After blue_mai went to work, I had planned to head into London, but realized my ticket was only valid off-peak. I couldn't remember whether that meant 9:30 or 10, but anyway, it was a lovely autumn morning so I decided to walk instead. It's very unusual for me to react to my plans being thwarted with: oh well, I'll just do something else then. I should cultivate that, because getting grouchy is not pleasant and being spontaneous leads to fun experiences, as in fact happened this morning.

So I walked along the South Bank from just beyond Rotherhithe as far as the Tate Modern. Definitely a good part of London to walk in. I saw something called More London, where they have a kind of amphitheatre and were doing an exhibition of those lovely Earth from the Air photos. And HMS Belfast, the Golden Hind, Southwark Cathedral and the cool sculpture / fountain thingy in Hays Galleria. And just random bits of industrial-turned-trendy architecture. I only wish I'd brought my camera.

I grabbed breakfast in a cafe I think I must have conjured up by wishing for it: right in the middle of all the deeply yuppie bars in that area, I ran into a cute, non-chain sandwich bar. They were selling sandwiches and pastries at reasonable prices, and absolutely beautifully decorated. And the proprietor was a sweet and vaguely flirtatious Italian guy. Last time I ate a pastry with such happiness was when I was with rysmiel in Montreal.

I didn't have much time in the Tate Modern, because I'd taken my time ambling along the river bank. But I visited the "Landscape/Matter/Environment" gallery where they have some cool Surrealist stuff, among other things. I always find the Tate Modern a bit mixed; there's a lot that just seems to be offensive for the sake of it (and I really can't see the point of Damien Hirst), but enough really interesting pieces to justify a visit.

This particular occasion a picture called Scylla by one Ithell Colquhoun made me smile. There was also a modern take on the old still life idea: basically, the artist had made a plate of fruit laid out as if for a traditional still life, and just left it there for weeks and weeks in front of a video camera. I think it was meant to be disgusting watching the delicious fruit turn into a putrid mass, but watching timelapsed photography of moulds growing appeals to my biology geek side.

Finally, I met up with NZ for lunch. She has been given leave to finish the rest of her PhD in London, and not have to go back to Dublin where she was pretty unhappy. And she was eager to hear news of hatam_soferet and darcydodo. We had nice Italian meal in a fairly random restaurant near her flat in northwest London. Very good to see NZ again.

Moooood: happyhappy
Tuuuuune: Nine Inch Nails: Dead Souls
Discussion: 10 contributions | Contribute something
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midnightmelody: default
Date:September 22nd, 2005 09:52 pm (UTC)
43 minutes after journal entry, 09:52 pm (midnightmelody's time)
Thanks to midnightmelody for organizing

You are very welcome - it was lovely to have such a good mix of specialisms.

I always have crash space at my house, though it's a bit far from central London. :)
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coalescent: default
Date:September 22nd, 2005 10:56 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 10:56 pm (coalescent's time)
Sounds like you had a great day. Good to meet you last night! And I look forward to your thoughts on the Chiang. ;-)
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livredor: teeeeeeeeea
Date:September 23rd, 2005 10:34 am (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry, 10:34 am (livredor's time)
I did indeed have a lot of fun. I'm fairly certain we've met before, at a biochem social or something like, but if we have it was a trivial and forgettable meeting.
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karen2205: default
Date:September 22nd, 2005 11:12 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry, 11:12 pm (karen2205's time)
Everybody present

Eeeek - my evenings are that famous??? *blushes*

told me I need to come to [info]karen2205's Coffee in Borders at some point, which seems like a good idea to me.

Yes, you should:)

Do any of the regular attendees want to suggest a particular date when they're likely to be there and / or offer me crash space in London?

I don't really - I live in a studio flat and while there's enough floor space to bring a sleeping bag, there's not much else. I'll have a think, but I'm fairly certain the regular attendees don't have much crash space. Your best bet is getting the last train back to Cambridge since we tend to finish eating by about 10 - 10.30pm you wouldn't be missing much.
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livredor: likeness
Date:September 23rd, 2005 11:05 am (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry, 11:05 am (livredor's time)
Well, I don't think it's entirely true to say your Coffee in Borders evenings are famous; this group of people, although rather disparate, are all from more or less the same loose social group (we all more or less know midnighmelody via LJ, for a start), and that group includes the people who go to Borders. But I have a strong impression it has become an institution, and one which a lot of people appreciate.
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Date:September 23rd, 2005 10:26 am (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry
Do any of the regular attendees want to suggest a particular date when they're likely to be there and / or offer me crash space in London?

You're welcome to use the spare room at the Oakdale. I note that hairyears, arkady and neonchameleon often show up at the pub after coffee, so it might be worth talking to them about their plans.
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livredor: likeness
Date:September 23rd, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC)
23 hours after journal entry, 08:55 pm (livredor's time)
Thank you, that's a really helpful offer. The main reason I want to stay over in London is to make it possible to go on to the pub afterwards, rather than having to rush off against a deadline. I wasn't aware that your pub was an option, and coming to your pub is another of the things I have in mind to do while I'm in this part of the world. So that might actually be rather a cool idea. Thank you
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thalassius: default
Date:September 23rd, 2005 10:57 am (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry, 10:57 am (thalassius's time)
If you're ever on the South Bank late on a December afternoon, the Hays Galleria is quite magical with its Christmas decorationa.
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blue_mai: default
Date:October 17th, 2005 06:30 pm (UTC)
24 days after journal entry, 06:30 pm (blue_mai's time)
i'm glad you were comfortable. i wasn't sure. i was probably not very attentive and didn't really feel like i was on form conversationally. the mid-week in-the-middle-of-lots-of-work thing probably didn't help.

and i still never found those cds i musplaced mid-conversation. i have absolutely no idea where they are since i tidied my room properly the next weekend. very odd. i think this is one of my fears about digital photography - losing the backups. fortunately there was only 1 cd of digital camera stuff and the originals are still on my computer, the other cds were scans of real bits of film.

didnt read this post properly before - what is coffee at borders? actually, i dont really need to know what it is, but can i come? do you think it would be appropriate?

your walk sounds great. definitely the sort of thing i'd recommend. i'm glad you dint get grumpy and wait around instead! i did a sponsored walk recently around the circle line at night, plus a little detour to the GLA, and i've done similar things for fun previously. it's one of the reasons i like living in london and haven't got sick of it even though i thought i would after a few years.

finally, i'm really writing cos i was thinking about something recently - do you still have that photo of me you mentioned ages ago? i'd like to see it sometime...
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livredor: portrait
Date:October 17th, 2005 09:48 pm (UTC)
25 days after journal entry, 09:48 pm (livredor's time)
I really enjoyed spending the evening with you, thank you so much. And the thing is, you might have felt "not on form" but talking to you is still really interesting because it's a novelty for me, whereas if you're not being very sparkling you might feel like you're saying things you've said lots of times already. As for not being attentive, I suspect that not being fussed over as a guest is probably a lot to do with feeling comfortable around you. That and that I've known you practically forever, and there's something I want to say about honesty but I can't entirely phrase it just now.

That's a pain about the CDs. I don't know if film is any better; you're just as likely to lose the negs as the CDs, and it's that much harder to make backups. lethargic_man has duplicates of everything plus copies on his computers, and that's not even a huge faff to be that paranoid.

Coffee at Borders is an innovation of karen2205's, whereby she has a regular slot for people to meet up and hang out, Tuesday evenings in Borders in Oxford Street. It's a very nice way for Londoners to have a social life that doesn't take much organizing energy or money. And it sort of works by word of mouth; people who've been invite others, so you don't get total random strangers, but you do get to meet new people. AFAIK it would be highly appropriate for you to show up, but do contact karen2205 as she prefers to know in advance who's going to be there. I'm next planning to do it on 25 October, if that makes any difference to you.

London is a great place to walk, it's so true.

As for that photo, I went through my photos that I had with me in Dundee and didn't find it, which means it is somewhere completely undefined in my parents' house. I will have a go at looking for it but I'm not promising anything; the older photos here are a total mess.
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