Friday, 26 February 2010
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Monday, 22 February 2010
As promised, I headed into taaan for the Chinese New Year celebrations this weekend. I've never visited central London during the celebrations before and I wasn't sure what to expect...how many people?I was a little shocked I must say. The main performances etc were being held in Trafalgar Square. Firecrackers, dotting the Dragons eyes in a ceremony that 'brings them to life', dragon dancing, lion dancing and all kinds of other displays. It all kicked off at 12pm and I thought I'd turn up around that time.
When I hit Trafalgar Square I was amazed at the sheer number of people who had come out for the day, especially given the rather nasty damp weather. There was no hope of getting anywhere close to the stage, it was a struggle to even get down into the square proper. Everywhere were red helium-filled balloons and people with mini dragons-on-sticks. Red chinese lanterns adorned just about every wall or railing. Kids (and some girlfriends) were lifted onto shoulders to enjoy the show.
I could hear stuff, but couldn't see anything for love nor money...so after a short bimble around and a couple of photos I decided to make my way to China Town where there was bound to be some bits and bobs going on.
As I approached China Town I could hear the sound of drumming and followed my ears to a small side street where a large crowd had gathered. From within the crowd I could hear the drumming, and then over their heads I saw two chinese dragons cavorting around in the street outside the local shops.
From my dodgy vantage point, all of a sudden, I saw shredded cabbage leaves being thrown into the audience....WTF??
After becoming a sheep and following the crowd around for a little while I figured out what was going on. The dragons were stopping outside every shop that had hung a cabbage outside. Attached to the cabbage was a red envelope that contained money. The dragon did his dance outside the shop doorway and then 'reared up' to grab the cabbage and the envelope. He then proceeded to shred the cabbage to bits and 'spit' it out all over the audience and in front of the shop.
I later found out that this ritual is called 'the picking of the greens'. In chinese mythology, dragons are meant to scare away evil spirits, so to have a dragon visit your establishment is to ensure good fortune and prosperity for the coming year.
Unfortunately I couldn't get close enough to get a decent video of the whole ritual, but I was lucky enough to be in the line of fire when the dragons finished in one street and lolloped around to the next, they came straight past me. And later on I caught them with a man actually dangling a cabbage from the first floor of his restaurant, I got some pics of that.
Waiting for the dragon
Cabbage eating dragons....why don't WE have fascinating festivals and rituals like this? No imagination!
Nom Nom Cabbage!
I also fell prey to the mood of the day and found myself purchasing an absolutely beautiful white chinese-style tunic top with an embroidered peacock on the front. NOT to be worn whilst drinking red wine. Beautiful it is. When I have camera batteries again I'll take a pic!
It was great seeing so many people out celebrating. Chinese food stand lined the streets, and one couple had dressed their small son in traditional chinese dress. He looked like a little prince, utterly gorgeous and cute.
Ironically, I then went and had dinner in Bella Italia...for a sociable person I canny stand crowds!!
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Maybe if I get enough votes I'll send it to the Olympic Commitee for fun. I think I'll send it anyway, they'll need some cheering up, what with having to deal with whatever overbearing designer convinced them to build that excuse for accomodation I see around the 02.....bless.
Fish Slapping is winning so far, Monty Python is timeless after all!!
I have no reason to be, I'm hardly a prisoner in my own home, I'm out there causing trouble more often than most people would like.
But just now, as I was gazing moronically through the double glazing, as is my way, I saw the shadow of what looked like a suspiciously large cat roaming over the rooftops of the houses across the way.
MAYBE this was merely a trick of the light, perhaps a friendly neighbourhood dog has taken up noctural freerunning, or those foxes I hear shagging in the garden have taken a step towards spicing up their lovemaking.
I'm not too proud to admit my windows will be firmly shut tonight, not the kind of beast I want in my bedroom thankee very muchly! Beggars...choosers :D
'yes, lovely dahling, just.....clip those claws next time, Kthxbai!'
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
A post by James over at The Buddhist Blog caught my attention today and directed me to an interview between Oprah and Thich Nhat Hanh, an 85 year old Zen Master from Vietnam.
Sunday, 14 February 2010
2010, the Year of the Tiger!
The Chinese year is based upon the lunar month which means that it starts aroundabout late January to early February, and the festival itself lasts for 15 days.
Legend tells us that, back in the day when it all started, there was a monster called the Nien that terrorised villagers on the first day of the New Year, eating anything and everything, including villagers! They took to leaving food outside their doors in the hopes that that would sate the monsters appetite.
One day they saw that a small child dressed in red scared the Nien away, it was scared of the colour red. From then on they hung red decorations etc on their doors at New Year and let off firecrackers as an extra deterrent. It never bothered them again.
Today, red is still the symbolic colour of Chinese New Year. Red paper lanterns (amongst other colours) adorn houses and streets, and on New Years day children are given red paper envelopes containing money or other gifts.
On New Years Eve families get together for huge sumptuous meals and wish each other peace, happiness, luck and prosperity. It's traditionally a time for forgiveness and letting go of old grudges.
The tiger itself is a graceful, brave and fierce character who is supposed to protect households from the 3 main tragedies of fire, thieves and ghosts. Nowadays in this country that's probably fire, flood and repossession.
125g Caster sugar
275g Plain flour
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Apart from that it'll be an Indian meal with ma and pa for Valentines....nom nom nom
Friday, 12 February 2010
Monday, 8 February 2010
Don't pretend like you don't remember how it's been described!
Vote away ladies and gents!
Sunday, 7 February 2010
But over the past few years, knowing a few people with cats has cured me of this kitty discrimination. Jo's (or Ogs as you may know her from numerous other posts) cats, Mornington and Lucy, in particular seem to do quite well in getting along with their fishy neighbours Roger, Didger and Co. This is quite impressive really, given that they are prone to dragging in the odd mouse, sparrow, and even pigeons.
This may be partly due to Jo's strategic positioning of the fish tank....right on the edge of a ledge where the cats can't easily reach round to flip up the lid without suffering a decidedly ego-bruising plummet onto the sofa. However, we all know that cats are pretty stubborn, and if they really wanted to they could get into that fishtank. A relatively easy alliance seems to exist betwixt them.
Quite remarkable given that just yesterday Jo and I were treated to this spectacle:
That would be Lucy, attempting with all her might to squeeze her entire head into the fishfood container, lapping up the morsels at the bottom. So desperate was her struggle that she almost suffocated herself (a couple of times she quite clearly had to come up for air, given enough time she'd have evolved a blowhole I'm sure) and pierced Jo's hand in the process.
Jo eventually retreated, for fear of losing her fingers, whereupon Lucy resorted to dipping her paw in to get to the rest. This was after she'd tried snuffling the pot along the shelf and only succeeded in almost tipping it off the edge.
I've always known the cats were partial to a few fishy flakes. We always take the mick out of Mornington for being a bit stupid, bless her heart, but that cat knows the sound of the fishfood container lid coming off. She can hear it from a hundred yards, she can hear it from the end of the shared garden with all the windows closed. Despite being slightly overweight that cat can move like greased lightning when she wants to, with a brief pause to squeeze her shapely behind through the catflap she's there in 3 seconds flat.
Fishy flakes...second only to catnip.
When Jo's away and I'm looking after the flat, it's gotten to the point where I deliberately feed the cats first so they're distracted, turn up the telly and then very carefully and quietly open the fishfood. It's the only way I can perform the feat in safety.
The only thing I can say is....Jo, you'd better hope those cat's don't realise that Roger tastes like a large, moist fishy flake. You'll have all out war on your hands!
Friday, 5 February 2010
I used to like bees
I'd watch them bumbling through the leaves
And hum along with their good vibrations
Until I learned that they killed more people last year than THE TERRORISTS did.
Now I write letters to the Daily Mail
Demanding strict border controls on the entrances to hives
And random police raids on patches of lavender.
Which makes about as much sense
As our attempts
At a notional national defence
Against a terrorist threat
About as dangerous as stepping outside in the wet
(Pneumonia is Britain's fifth biggest killer)
I almost feel a kind of pride
In our innocence and trust as we're all taken for a ride
On the paranoia bus with the
Bullet-proof windows firmly closed and every steel door secure
Glancing at the dark-skinned people outside.
Mount Snowden kills as many people as terrorism
So let's drag it down to Belmarsh
Hold it without trial for 42 days
Til it confesses to conspiring to undermine our British way
Whatever that is.
More people are killed by taking the wrong pills than by terrorist attacks
Which means the money that's planned for ID cards, armed guards, putting people behind bars without charge
Would save more lives if spent instead on
You're more likely to be killed by a rare disease
Or win the national lottery
You're more likely to be killed by a hernia
You're more likely to be killed by your furniture
You're more likely to be done over by your lover
To meet your end at the hands of a friend
You're more likely to commit suicide yourself
Than be killed by the suicide of somebody else.
And stress kills thousands every year
So – an ironic twist –
You're more likely to be killed by the fear of terrorism
Than by a terrorist.
So how to explain this?
Our government's obsessed
An endless war against a risk
Not properly assessed
For which they need broader state powers to watch you at all hours, CCTV, ID – they don't mean to intrude, but could you include an ample selection of bodily samples? – longer detention, not to mention the need to obtain evidence mysteriously from overseas but let them explain: it doesn't count as torture if somebody elsewhere is doing it for ya, same as having your phone tapped by some information vandal isn't really a scandal because civil liberties must be balanced against the need for greater security, surely you don't really need that jury, with so many new offences in store there's bound to be one or more made just for you, even if you only meant to create peaceful dissent against society's ills, you'll still find yourself on the line out front in a new witch hunt during open season…
But it's definitely all about terror and you'd be making a grave error bordering on treason to suggest that they might want these powers for any other reason.
I won't be gagged, or tagged and numbered
Won't have my genes and eyeballs plundered
At my own expense for a defence that won't work against a threat that couldn't get much smaller,
They won't get my photograph, my details, my age
(So long as they don't log onto my Facebook page)
And when they show up for me
I won't go quietly
I'll tell them to go out and fight the real enemy
Because sex kills more people than terrorism
And so does pregnancy
So let's drop the terror cops
The thought police for the sex police.
I bet they'll have much better uniforms.