Friday, November 26, 2010

Transports of delight

One thing that's very different about Sydney, compared to Hong Kong, is the amazing proliferation of street art. In the area where I live, Chippendale, everywhere I look there seems to be a mural, or graffiti, or a subtle little stencil like the one shown (seen in Pine Lane). Sites like Acid Midget document street art all over Sydney. Some of it can be crass, or vulgar, and occasionally there's heavy-handed political posturing; but then I'll see something like this one, which is a little secret message from the artist to the viewer. (I used to ride a Vespa around London so I have a special fondness for scooters.)

(Thanks to elj, who captures street art around Newtown, for prompting me to photograph this little vision.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stuck in a moment

Perhaps partly because I've just been reading a novel about a WWII Russian spy by Alan Furst, and also because I've always been interested in that era (Gitta Sereny's majestic biography of Albert Speer, Hitler's Willing Executioners – which I read, incongruously, on a beach in Fuertaventura – If This Is A Man, Stalingrad and, absurdly, Wolfenstein), I was struck by the beauty and mystery of this picture, taken by Mark Hogencamp in Marwencol, the miniaturised battleground he built in his own back garden while recovering from a beating that left him brain-damaged. His tragic story has been turned into a documentary.

Found via the website Look At This Little Thing!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Call the cops

When I was about 8 years old, I had a crush on a boy called Derek, who was in my class at primary school. He was tall and thin, with swept back blond hair and a cynical look which I found wildly attractive: he was a romantic hero straight out of one of the too-old-for-me books I was fond of reading. He was an extremely fast runner, to add to his allure; my short-lived career as a runner (third in the East Lothian Schools' 200 metres in 1977) may well have been founded on (and certainly foundered on) an attempt to either emulate, or impress, Derek. Of course, he didn't even know I existed.

Not long afterwards my brother and sister and I were taken out of school to continue our schooling in a more maverick fashion, and I never saw Derek again.

My mum just emailed me to tell me that two policemen had arrived at her front door. She confessed to thinking "What have I done now?", having all too recently had an absurd brush with the law involving a knocked over bollard in a supermarket carpark, an off-duty policeman and jobsworth, and a summons to appear in court; but they were just following up on a local burglary. One of them asked after me and my sister; it turned out to be my very early hero, Derek, who's now a local copper. And somehow – perhaps because I still, risibly, harbour a secret yearning to be a police officer myself – that has really impressed me.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Amazing cakes

From Black Star Pastry in Newtown. In order of appearance: Persian fig, orange and pistachio cake ($6); salted chocolate and caramel tart (seen in a slightly dishevelled, but still beautiful, state after the ravages of a journey back home in the basket of my bicycle) ($4); and elderflower and pistachio cheesecake ($6). They tasted as good as they look. Apparently Black Star Pastry also does extremely good pies - including an award-winning lamb shank pie which I am already dreaming about.

Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon