Photographic Evidence

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This was a day when he pretended he was asleep, until the last minute.
Book reading scheme, just before the doors closed.
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On Tuesday, last week, I witnessed a sight that has puzzled me into re-opening this blog. Here’s begins my quest to identify the person who keeps throwing himself off the train at the last second. Male, medium height, medium build, fairly nondescript, fraying slightly with age, wouldn’t have noticed him without his unusual exit strategy.

As a normal human I have a clear routine that I enact when planning to disembark any vehicle. I ready myself by packing away food, or books, or newspapers. I’ll try to put my coat on, I’ll stand up, make my way to my chosen exit door and wait for my egress to be allowed. What’s wonderful is that everyone else in the vehicle then knows that I’m about to leave – there’s no stress, everyone is given all the information they require. This man doesn’t follow those rules. He removed items of clothing as we approached Ruislip Gardens, got out a couple of books and some play-doh, tried to make the seat recline and then cocked his head backwards and yelled: “I am in piss-poor for a long shawl”. I genuinely have no idea what he meant by that. I think he was wearing a shawl when he came in but I can’t be sure. Then he flung everything off the train and then himself, wearing nought but a gilet.

There’s only a few explanations I can think of:

1. He’s forgetful, really forgetful.

2. He’s a performance artist.

3. He’s a spy.

I intend to record his activities here in the future, so keep checking back to find out the truth about the stranger on the train.

Very sad sight

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Saw the saddest thing in the world. A Lollypop Lady working at some traffic lights.

Now, there’s two possibilities there: she’s awful at her job and keeps leaving at the end of the day with a pile of people failed by her. Or: it’s her last week in the job and she’s gone renegade.

I (Julia Nieman) actually discussed it with my female colleague Priya Shah at work the other day and realised that meant that our lives passed the Bechdel test.

Can’t Be Choosings My Musings

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If a T-Rex really had vision based on movement how would it ever appreciate the craftsmanship of a statue?

Take a photo, it’ll last longer. Doesn’t work on milk.

Battle between evening self and morning self with alarm setting.

“I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her” suggests that the other party is very trusting of you & you’re about to abuse that trust.

I just got a rocking horse from my Nan, I think it’s traumatised and having flashbacks.

“Sister, Sister, never knew how much I missed ya”

I’m such a feminist that I don’t miss Baywatch: I Ms Baywatch.

Caffeine & Cash

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Man Buying a Coffee
@ Starbucks, Beaconsfield Services 9.38am, 1st March

Unidentified man engages in potentially tawdry pleasantries with subdued staff at a services-based Starbucks. A starting point ripe with possibility and crackling with uncertainty.

A man, dressed head-to-toe in black, is given an opportunity to order coffee without so much as a single person waiting in front of him. Unabashed by such clear access to coffee he orders a tall cappuccino (to go, naturally) and pays on credit card. But it was at this point that the story twisted in a new direction. He wants nothing more than the chance to exchange a simple greeting but comes face to face with more than he bargained for. In a startling about-turn the previously subdued barista hit the man… with a barrage of niceties and genuine interest. Slightly flustered, but impressively controlled, he responded with a smile and some cliches. It was all the barista wanted as he tentatively made his way to his now waiting beverage. And like that, he was gone.

Although highly polished and boasting considerable performances from the leads, Caffeine & Cash suffers from a weak third act. Having been thrown into the action immediately (and rewarded with some astute dialogue) it is only fair that you begin to expect an explosive finale. Red herrings, such as the assistant barista (in an under-developed role) fumbling with the empty cup, are left dangling and a real lack of conflict exposes some more basic issues. The subdued colour palette and basic set design knock off further marks. A real shame then as 70% of this was really compulsive viewing.

Strong turns from its two leads and the ability to elicit tension from such prosaic material means nothing when the third act really fails to reward.

Slegs Gemiddeld

Desperately Seeking Time

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Lady can't find relevant departure time

Woman Checking the Departure Board
@ Heathrow T5, 6.12am, 26th February

For any such activity to stand out in an already overcrowded genre will require deftness of touch, pathos and a new angle. It’s a shame but whenever I come to review an activity like this I am overwhelmed with apathy, a sense of “been here, seen it, declined the purchase of fashionwear”. But my job is to enter each new assignment with a clear head and review an activity on it’s own merits; so I choke back the boredom like a gulp of Pepsi that’s too big for my mouth.

Deliberately ticking off all the cliched aspects of the genre and then failing to either entertain, provoke or educate the audience. The inadvertent humour provided by the surprise ending was a relief but did not come across as deliberate attempt to subvert, more an accident brought about by forgetfulness. It’s rare that this reviewer longs for deus ex machina but, by jove, I was begging for the departure board to accidentally display a curse word, the woman to slip on discarded juice or even a streaker. Anything to break the monotony! Unfortunately this falls squarely into the “so bad, it’s just dull” category, avoid.

Ostensibly the set-up is pure cliche. Planes waiting to be boarded? Check. Departures board? Check. And lo, what’s this? It’s a woman who wants to know which gate her flight will be boarding at. The first slice of originality arrives when I become aware that this woman is middle-aged and not traveling with a family. Unfortunately this potential source of intrigue is left unexplored as time drifts by and the woman continues to stare vacantly at the departures board. Minutes pass by and trudge into the distance as the plot grinds to a halt. She then walks off, none the wiser. The deliberately open-ended conclusion left me questioning whether the writers had simply lost interest in their protagonist or whether they were aiming for some more philosophical point about humanity.

A dry cake made from cliche that takes far too long to eat.

Bastante Poor

The Bush of Knowledge

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The Bush of Knowledge

Woman Taking Photo of Big Bush
@ Table Mountain, South Africa 2.10pm, 5th March

A woman, overwhelmed by concepts of tourism, decides to take a photo of a bush. Will her decisions haunt the rest of her life?

The short answer, to the question posed, is no. And that isn’t to give anything away. Merely a minute in and the audience is made aware that this seemingly innocuous photo is actually innocuous. A woman, mid-thirties and with delightful family in-tow, is exploring the tourist attraction that is Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Fantastic visuals and a diverse soundtrack with up to ten different languages featured means that it is simply breath-taking to watch at times. (Warning: despite the multilingual soundtrack there are no subtitles offered. To me this was part of the charm, a sly attempt to create a fish-out-of-water feeling). A rather linear plot progression offers little in surprise but to criticise on that basis would be terribly shortsighted. The journey is the point and it’s a spectacular journey made real by the minutiae of this young family.

Unfortunately problems exist and problems that are easily surmountable. Having spent so much on locations it seems there was very little on costumes and even less on supporting characters. The woman’s husband is totally miscast and spends the majority of his time trying to find ways to be part of the woman’s scenes. The children fare little better but at least have the excuse of being young. So thank Mandela that the woman is such an engaging performer, she holds attention for the duration and remains with you for days afterwards

The more existential questions raised are an effective subtext to the visual beauty. Why is the bush important enough to be photographed? Is anything important enough to be photographed? What is our role in documenting life and is it better to live life or to document? All questions that have shifted this reviewer’s baseline and given him plenty of food for thought.

An elegiac journey with an ethereal host that lives with you long after.

Schattig Spul

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