August 2016 Update

As I’ve not watched or reviewed anything since the “weekly” update a few days ago, consider this a combination of this week’s update, as well as the regular monthly recap. Hence, it’s time for a stream of consciousness ramble about whatever is currently on my mind.

I love London. I used to live there for a year (in Stratford, near where the Olympic stadium is, though when I was there it was near the big pit they were building the Olympic stadium in) and yesterday I got to spend the whole day there, under the mission of renewing my passport, a form-filled process that also contains a four hour window of waiting around for the passport to be processed, so I used this time to run a couple of errands revolving around scouting out supplies for the wedding and obtaining food to insert into my face. One of the things London is perhaps best known for is its public transport, with trains, tubes, buses, taxis and rickshaws all over the place, ready to take you wherever you need to go, generally at a reasonable price, but as I had time on my hands and not a lot of destinations on my route, I set about on foot, to better experience the bustle of London’s streets.

London is amazing. It’s full of every conceivable kind of person. All races, religions, genders, social classes and people from all the countries of the world. And every single one of them was in my way. It seems that when you move to London you become at least 40% more attractive and stylish, but everyone also loses any sense of personal space, be it their own, anybody else’s or, more specifically, mine. Granted this began on the train journey up which, due to safety reasons, took place aboard a train one carriage shorter than intended, meaning everyone was packed in like sardines making a particularly stiff-necked mission to not visually acknowledge the person whose armpit is making out with their ear. I ended up standing for most of the journey so a couple could sit next to one another, which was fine.

Anyway, in London my above-ground bipedal route took me past many of London’s infamous sight-seeing destinations, such as the London Eye, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Nelson’s Column and Buckingham Palace, which was in no way my intention – I walked at the mercy of Google Maps – so much of my travelling was spent circumnavigating roaming gangs of tourists and photographers, who cannot understand how standing at one far side of the pavement and photographing their family at the other could possibly inconvenience the tens of thousands of people trying to pass this impromptu photo studio. It’s not just the monuments though, people take photos of some of the most inane and mundane stuff. It still puzzles me as to why people insist on taking photos of telephone boxes and buses, just because they’re bright red. Maybe it’s from being a local that I’ve just gotten used to their iconic design, but taking a picture of something that hasn’t been used to make a phone call in years and has since become equal parts public urinal and prostitution billboard makes little sense to me, and there are so many London buses on every damn road that surely they must lose their appeal sooner or later?

On the subject of transport, in London every single type seems to follow its own set of rules with regards to indicating, roundabouts, lane usage, traffic lights, whether the pavement is an acceptable alternative to the road and whether pedestrians should be even slowed down for, let alone stopped at, even when crossing at a designated pedestrian crossing. Pedestrians are the bottom rung of London’s vehicular hierarchy, and all the other drivers are more than happy to remind you of this, but I resisted the urge of the underground and walked everywhere. My train from Bournemouth and back was the only mode of transport I used. Was this all just to rack up the most amount of steps on my FitBit? Absolutely. My previous record was just over 25,000 steps in a day, which included a run, a few bike rides and several dog walks, so I expected to hit around 30k with my London escapades. To ensure this I even walked the three miles each way to the train station and back, and walked Murphy before I left in the morning. Turns out I didn’t really need to do that, as my daily total, after I’d returned home and collapsed face first onto the bed in a weary, sweaty, bedraggled mess, was just shy of 42,000, which equated to walking a little over 20 miles. There’s no way I’m ever going to beat that. Oh, and did I mention that last week I cut the side of my big toe open, along the outside of the nail? And how it hurts to walk? Yeah, I’m not a bright person, and today I can barely move.

The whole blog goals thing continues to go terribly, as we’ve gotten to the point in the year where the decent movies I missed at the cinema are now hitting DVD, and it turns out I’d rather catch up with the likes of Sing Street, Midnight Special and Eddie the Eagle, all of which I was sure I’d like beforehand, than watch something like The Palm Beach Story that I ended up disliking. Here’s where we are for the month:

Aim: Review 8 or 9 1001 List movies each month
Reviewed: 3
The Palm Beach Story
Lawrence of Arabia
Successful?: No!

Aim: Review 1 “Bad” movie each month
Reviewed: 1
The Palm Beach Story
Successful?: Yes!

Aim: Review 1 “Blind Spot” movie each month
Reviewed: 2
Lawrence of Arabia
Successful?: Yes!

Aim: Review 2 “Film-Makers” movies each month
Reviewed: 3
Triple 9 (Kate Winslet)
Hail, Caesar! (Coen Brothers)
Steve Jobs (Kate Winslet, Aaron Sorkin)
Successful?: Yes!

Aim: Read A New-To-Me Book
Read: 1
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
It’s taken me over two months to finish it (I actually read about half of it on the train yesterday) and was, in the end, pretty disappointing. Bear in mind most of my familiarity with the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson comes from the BBC series, so the way in which the book focuses on different characters and traits than the series was unexpected and less appealing to me. Take Moriarty, for example. I’ve not read beyond Memoirs, but as I understand it Moriarty only shows up again in one other Holmes story, whereas he has a reputation as being Holmes’ greatest foe, the has an over-arching impact on the entire series since his inclusion. Plus I love Andrew Scott’s interpretation, so the fact that he barely appears in one very short story was a major disappointment for me. Also, the general conceit of these stories is they are being documented by Watson and published in the newspaper, so they already possess a second-hand detachment from the events they depict. Many of the stories in Memoirs, as the name would suggest, become largely Watson relating a story that someone else told him, with very little of it taking place “live” even for Watson. And several of the stories don’t even include a great deal of detective work or mystery, instead relying on a third character relaying the step-by-step details of how something came to be. I’m going to take a break from Doyle for a while, but as a completist I’ll work through the other Holmes books and see if they get any better. The next one I think is The Hound of the Baskervilles, which I’ve already got.
Successful?: Yes!

Aim: Visit Somewhere New
Visited: Other than a couple of streets in London I’ve never walked down before, none.
Successful?: No!

September is going to be an interesting month for me, in a way to could lead to lots of stuff being watched and written, or not a great deal. Check back in a month to find out which way things ended up, keep your fingers crossed for the former.

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