Posts tagged ‘nostalgia’

9 January, 2013

The Tube

Dear London Underground,

Happy 150th birthday!

There have been inexplicable delays, blackened ‘nose residue’; a one hour halt on the Central line between Liverpool Street and Bank which I endured Elaine Benes-style one rainy Sunday afternoon in 2009 (I’ll not forget!); the cavernous, gleaming Spooks-like interiors of Canary Wharf; the everyone-is-coming-at-me-from-360-degrees hustle and bustle of Liverpool Street and Victoria; the shabby elegance of the District Line stations; lugging airport baggage along the 500m ‘interchange’ at Green Park between the Jubilee and the Piccadilly lines; lots of hellos (and goodbyes) at my most-frequented stations – Bethnal Green, London Bridge, Southwark, Waterloo, Liverpool Street;  the snow days which always brought the Underground to a stop.  And most hilariously, one evening while on the way home, a sonorous announcement: ‘the next train will be delayed due to leaves on the track’.

Yours with great affection,


PS. My, how you’ve grown.










(1889, 1920, 1939 and 1964 from Retronaut; 2012 from TfL)

12 May, 2012

Adam Yauch aka Nathanial Hörnblowér, RIP

Bear with me.  I’m not in the habit of posting long entries nor of extolling the virtues of a celebrity who has died and whom I’ve never met.  But over the last week, I have been sorely puzzled as to why news of the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys has so keenly affected me.

I am not a fan of hip-hop or rap but nevertheless, have all but the latest of their albums.  This is thanks to a couple of ex-boyfriends who were also not hip-hop/rap fans but nevertheless thought Beastie Boys were the bees’ knees of all kinds of awesome.

[In fact, having recently watched (as opposed to noting in the background) a bunch of their music videos, I’ve gained sudden insight into the aesthetics driving one boyfriend’s penchant during the 1990s for close cropped hair, backwards baseball cap, untucked, pressed, button down shirts and goatee.]

Back then, I didn’t really understand the obsession.  Intergalactic and Sabotage were great songs and their music videos sang to my generation, reared on a TV diet of Japanese anime and 1970s and early 1980s cop shows.  But as an overly-serious adolescent, I had dismissed the Beastie Boys and their screeching, sneering raps about rhymin’ abilities, hard partying, porno mag confiscation and ‘ladies’ as gauche.  [My probably expressed this then as ‘boys – eww!’] And hadn’t revisited this opinion since.  Interestingly, my adolescent self did not see the inherent contradiction of listening day-in and day-out to R’n’B.

But since news of MCA’s passing, I’ve had Beastie Boys on continuous rotation; rediscovering and reappreciating the tunes I knew and being blown away by the rest of their oeuvre.

Because, like all great bands (whatever the genre), the Beastie Boys evolved and took the music scene with them.  From their beginnings as enfants terribles, to sampling experts and funk beat purveyors, to their return to punk roots on the guitar and drums, through to their later incarnations as rap’s elder statesmen – pleading for unity and tolerance in the wake of September 2011 (2004’s To The 5 Boroughs), organising and playing Free Tibet concerts and apologising to the ladies for any prior lyrical disrespect (MCA in Sure Shot).  They began their careers rapping about their rights to party and never lost that, but expanded to cover more political and introspective, Buddhist-influenced beliefs.

As their success and fame grew, their musical and personal integrity became clear.  Their early lyrics may have been crude and their shows puerile (gigantic phalluses and scantily dressed women in cages, anyone?) but the Beastie Boys were never bullies.  Rather, they were the jesters – keen to entertain but also speak truth, often by taking the mirror to the emperors of our consumerist culture (and their new clothes).

This bent for hijinks and tomfoolery was plain from their music videos.  Just plain fun to watch, the videos veritably heave with irreverent takes on popular culture (see, for example, No Sleep Till Brooklyn which satirises the glam metal movement in 1986).

So I suspect the reason that MCA’s death has affected me so keenly is simple: I’ve grown up alongside the Beastie Boys and their music.  Adam was a Beastie Boy, but he was one of us.  And we are forever young, and forever invincible, right?  His passing has been a gentle reminder that this is illusory and even the emblems of our youth are mortal.

I read a great quip amongst the last week’s flurry of stories and chatter.  Someone had mentioned MCA’s death to his father and expressed sadness at the news.  The father’s response: ‘He’s a Buddhist – he won’t even have enough time to brush his teeth before he’s back.’


RIP, Nathanial Hörnblowér – it’s been a pleasure.  Thanks for the tunes, your music videos, the awesome costumes and the mustaches.

Here are a bunch of B-Boys vids.

16 October, 2011


Oh my.

Sudden intense flashbacks to halcyon early high school days, a massive crush on all things River (especially Stand By Me) and the day I heard of his death.

All deep, heartfelt memories.  But why on earth would anyone want to (pay £50 to) wear it on one’s chest?

(With thanks to the Guardian)

3 October, 2011

Old Skool Photoshop

I remember the days…

(with thanks to withstyleandsubstance)

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27 May, 2010

Vee Speers

Her photograph series The Birthday Party shows what an eerie and mystical world children can (and probably do) inhabit.

See more here.

26 April, 2010

Ms Deschanel

She’s named for a J.D. Salinger novel, she was Trillian in the 2005 Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film and the rather unsympathetic eponymous character in (500) Days of Summer and she’s married to Death Cab for Cutie main man Ben Gibbard.

She can sing, she can dance, she has a wardrobe every self-respecting indie girl would kill for.  And she’s as cute as a button.

And, along with M.Ward as She & Him, she’s just released Volume Two, a second album of nostalgia-tinged pop songs.  Which features a lovely version of I Can Hear Music, my all-time favourite Beach Boys’ song.

Take it away, Zooey (and M.Ward)!

9 March, 2010

Tyger, Tyger

The raucous Chinese New Year celebrations of my childhood seems to no longer exist.  Children these days don’t get to light firecrackers in the backyard and then run inside to watch them explode from the safety of the house (probably a good thing).  They don’t get to push exploding gumdrop-shaped firecrackers into the neighbour’s house in the hope of maiming, or at least scaring someone before getting caught, told off and grounded.  There are no impromptu gambling sessions with a myriad of aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents and random visitors for booty like roasted watermelon seeds and copper coins.  They aren’t given a chance to stuff themselves until they’re groaning, bellies full of the cakes, biscuits and mandarins which magically appear in the household this time each year.  And they certainly no longer endure the endless traipsing around to pay respects to all their elders, whether near or distant relatives, friends or acquaintances of their parents.  I never minded the endless traipsing because at the end of each visit, after you’d paid your respects and looked suitably cute, you would be given an ang pow containing money, a precious, precious pocket money supplement.

But like Proust and his madelaine, whenever I bite into a kueh kah peik (a sweet flakey biscuit called Chinese Love Letters) or a kueh bung kek (tapioca flour cookies) around this time each year, those happy memories always float to the surface.

Some pics from recent celebrations ushering in the Year of the Tiger.

A paper cutting of a tiger

Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cakes). These cakes are traditional at occasions like a baby's first month celebration and weddings, not Chinese New Year. We ate these at my niece's first birthday, which we celebrated along with Chinese New Year this year.

Pineapple Jam Nibbles

A paper cutting of a tiger

Mixed New Year Noodles (in the white and red plates) and a host of other goodies to celebrate the one year old's birthday.

14 February, 2010


A few months ago, Garancedore wrote about a French photographer she met in New York.  A chap who, as it turns out, was carrying a wonderful secret known (prior to Garance’s blog) only to himself and his wife.

You see, his wife had embroidered a heart on the inside of his shirt pocket.  Garance doesn’t say, but I’d like to think it was his left breast pocket, close to his own heart.

More prosaically (handsome French photographers being in short supply in this sleepy, suburban part of the world), I made a similar discovery as I cleaned my childhood toys for storage.  Under her apron and floral dress, my old Raggedy Ann doll was also hiding an embroidered heart.  Which I’d forgotten all about.  Probably embroidered by her maker, whom I’ve never met, but still no less lovely.


Happy Valentine’s Day, and a Happy Year of the Tiger, all!

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14 February, 2010


Ahh, Toast Spring 2010.

I’ve got to get me to South America and/or Cuba for that dreamy, steamy, nostalgic, photographic vibe.

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30 January, 2010


There is not a fashionista alive who doesn’t – unknowingly or not – channel the sexy, tomboyish style of Jane Birkin in her 1960’s heyday.  Those legs!  That fringe!  That smile!  Serge Gainsbourg!  The wicker basket!  The crazy bo-bo lifestyle!

Too busy living life, I imagine, to really bother about clothing, the off-duty Ms Birkin always espoused the ‘less is more’ principle (and, judging from the number of photos of her au naturel, she often took this to the extreme).  Most impressively, she always looked like she was having a grand old time, whatever she was doing.

Besides the timeless chic, that’s something to be emulated.

Non-Jane photos from A.P.C. Spring/Summer ’10.