Sadly, GofaDM is not making a brave new move into solving your plumbing issues, though, I do like to think of myself as a rather good theoretical plumber: I just draw the line at getting my hands dirty and actually engaging with the mundane reality of pipes, olives and washers.

I have a tendency to either try and fit far too much into my life or to while away many an hour without any apparent achievement.  Sometimes, I seem to manage to do both at once: which is simultaneously impressive, logically impossible and somewhat frustrating.

Last Saturday was definitely one of the ‘stuff-it-all-in’ kinds of day.  By the end of it, I was surprised that what remains of my grey matter wasn’t oozing out of my ears given the rather excessive amount of stimulation and input I had forced into it.

I first headed into town, as Southwest Trains were once again offering a £15 return to the capital, and Saturday was one of the very few days this quarter when journeying by train to London would not be viewed as rather a palaver by a polar explorer.  Network Rail seem determined to keep those of us lying south-west of Basingstoke away from the City: unless we are willing to devote many hours to the voyage, enjoy bus travel and don’t want to stay out late (or are willing to stay out until the following morning).  My primary objective was to visit a circus (so no great surprise there), but as it was a rare opportunity to access the heady delights of London I managed to crowbar in a couple of gallery visits first.

My first was looking at Painting the Modern Garden at The Royal Academy.  This was very good, if rather busy, but had almost too many paintings for my poor brain to take in.  I did discover that there seems to have been some degree of fashion in blooms – or at least the painting thereof – and that I much prefer the Impressionists’ take on the dahlia than I do that offered by modern gardeners.  Several of the gardens I would like to decamp to right now, but I think my favourite work was a painting of Gertrude Jekyll’s boots.  I remain ever the contrarian!

My second gallery was at the Barbican looking at the work of Charles and Ray Eames.  As you might imagine, there were a fair few chairs on offer – but their oeuvre was much wider than I’d realised.  The exhibition included a splendid film – of the type one used to see through the arched window in the Play School of my youth – showing the making of a fibreglass chair.   However, my favourite take-away was not the film, nor even the chair but one of the three colours in which it was first offered.  How have we forgotten greige?  Surely, the finest name for a colour ever created!  I want my flat repainted and carpeted in greige (which I am pronouncing to rhyme with beige) when next this is needed.  I am determined to restore it to the mainstream!  I want all GofaDM readers to start using it: force it into conversation, email or tweet if you must.

I was ostensibly at the Barbican to see the Australian circus company, Circa (the Eames were just an amuse bouche).  Their current work is called Il Ritorno and was of indescribable (by me at least) brilliance.  The physical work was, in many ways, of a nature and unshowy difficulty I’d never seen before and whilst not narrative delivered a very strong emotional heft.  Not only that, but they have comprehensively outdone me when it comes to juxtaposition.  The amazing and moving physical feats shared the stage with a harpsichord.  Not just a harpsichord, but a harp, cello and violin and their players further augmented by a tenor and a mezzo.  I literally did not know where to look much of the time: almost all my cultural interests on stage at once with circus, theatre and music seamlessly melded.  I fear I left rather shell-shocked and with the need to up my game on all fronts!

Even at that stage, the day was not yet empty of delights.  I returned to Southampton and spent the evening with three stunning guitarists at the Art House café.  I even learnt a little guitar technique from Clive Carroll: though by the time I’m ready to put it into use I fear the lesson may have been lost.

It was a great day, but frankly far more experience than my ageing brain can safely absorb in a twelve hour period.  Were I a computer, I think some sort of overflow error would have been in order.  Luckily, as a biological computer, at no stage did I need to dump my stack and so avoided embarrassment (well, any more than is usually occasioned by my excursions into the wider world).

Comfy Chairs

A useful taunt to any marauding Weeping Angels (yes, I do assume a working knowledge of Doctor Who in my readership), but also an important part of life – though terribly bad for the back, I should really be working on squatting as my primary alternative to standing or lying down.

As should be clear by now, I spend quite a lot of time supporting the Arts and much of this time is spent sitting down (young people’s music and the visual arts being the main exceptions where a chair is seldom on offer).  These events take place in a wide range of venues: theatres, concert halls, cinemas, churches and comedy venues (and, at the Edinburgh Fringe, in any re-purposed space from a broom cupboard or urinal up to a sports hall) with a wide variety of permanent or temporary seating on offer.  I’m relatively adept at finding decent legroom – where it is available – and for some venues know where to book to offer my buttocks a slightly more padded experience.  Nonetheless, many venues are uncomfortable for any period longer than 15 minutes and some become almost unendurable before the first hour is up – or at least that is the case for me, there may exist a human being (or other animal) which has the appropriate biomechanical set-up to endure such seating in relative comfort (though I’m not convinced, I often wonder if chair makers ever actually test their products – when I rule the world -can’t be long now – CEOs will have to sit on their least comfortable product, which should drive quality up).

This past Sunday, at a church in Preston Park in Brighton, was one of the least comfortable seating experiences for a while.  I am assuming the suffering is supposed to bring me closer to God and that my time there will net me a few hours off my tariff in purgatory – though I do worry that in these days of declining church attendance the dodgy chairs may not be helping (unless the CofE is aiming to capture the masochist market – perhaps cashing in on the success of 5o Shades of Grey?).

On Monday night, I went to the Pleasance in Islington for an evening of comedy.  I arrived breathing like a steam train ascending a challenging gradient as I had elected to use the stairs at Caledonian Road tube station rather than the lift (it would seem I am not as young or fit as I like to imagine).  The chairs for the comedy gig were adequate, but nothing special – luckily the comedy stylings of Carl Donnelly and Tom Craine kept my mind off the state of my glutes.  I have reached the age where I am quite hard to embarrass and so sit at the front (effectively infinite legroom) despite the risk of becoming part of the show – though this is more fun if I’m with younger people who tend blush more readily.  My participation in the show was modest, though I did find myself publicly pondering whether the verb most commonly used to describe onanism (it rhymes with “sank”) was transitive or not (Mr Collins agrees with me that it cannot take an object, though I suspect we may both be somewhat more purist in this regard than Mr Craine).  In French, I would certainly expect the verb to be reflexive.  Still, I seem to have becoming distracted by thoughts of self-abuse.

Whilst the StageSpace venue chairs were nothing to write home about (though, apparently sufficient to blog about), the bar/waiting area outside, where I spent some minutes waiting before being were allowed in, has the most comfortable couch I have ever experienced in 47 years on this planet.  So comfy was it, that I am tempted to return to the Pleasance just to sit on their couch – tickets are cheap (a fiver), and I’m not sure anyone checks that you actually attend any comedy while there …