Thursday, June 30, 2011

Long-term consequences


Yesterday I accidentally learned why so many barber shop fronts sport red and white stripes as the main elements of their design.


Distinctive striped poles are also often drawn or attached near the entrance, in latter case spinning and producing the "endless spiral" effect.


The short and unlikely explanation of that is that during medieval times barbers also offered dental and bloodletting services, so even today the symbol of their craft is the metaphoric representation of white bandages and red blood.

That's cool.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A dedicated bus

Spotted this inscription today while waiting at red lights:


Later at home I also found a picture of the plaque from inside that bus:

Apparently Dave wasn't an outstanding hero (at least, nothing about that on the internet) - just a nice chap passed away too soon remembered by his fellow drivers. Attitude like that makes the world a better place.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lessons learned

1. It is quite possible to break a toe simply by striking your foot against the bathroom door.

2. Hospitals (at least those I've seen) are much more impressive than surgeries (at least those I've been in) and provide much quicker turnaround.

3. It is really possible to learn everything you need to get treatment (i.e. where to go and what to expect including ratings and reviews left by other patients) from the NHS official website, all in a matter of seconds.

4. You don't need (and aren't expected to) to have any papers with you to be seen by a doctor - being in need for help is perfectly enough. And you can't be rejected because you live too far away or something.

5. And if you're here for the first time, you get registered in 5 minutes.

6. It doesn't cost you a penny (okay, let's forget about taxes for time being).

That's it.

Maybe I'm rushing to say that before I get any negative experience but speaking of taxes, things like those above are definitely the ones worth spending on them. And speaking of negative experience, I also got my first appointment with the dentist here soon, so that might be a chance to prove the myths wrong... or not.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Black cabs of the Strand

Taking shelter from drizzle with a cup of coffee, I tried to draw numerous cabs stopping on red lights almost in front of us:

As I only had my phone with me, the sketches are tiny:

Black cab Black cab Black cab

On the bright side, I found that one of the two apps I use for sketching can then play the progress, and I liked it so much that captured the process using another phone:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Learning something new every day

Recently I got a chance to ask a park worker about the turtles seen in the nearby pool, and to my surprise she revealed they're actually treated not as a part of the wildlife to take care of but as pests.

Turtles at Clissold park
[here's a better photo made in the same park by someone else]

The story behind is that when the Ninja Turtles series were ridiculously popular 20 years ago terrapins were introduced to many parks in London. Alas, that didn't go well as soon it turned out they bred too fast causing threat to other species. Since that moment, no new turtles were released into pools. Even more, they are still looked for and removed every time ponds are dried for regular maintenance procedures.

Despite these measures the capital turtles have been struggling for two decades already, so far coping with the hostile attitude as well as with the unusual environment. Obviously, you can't expect less from ninjas.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stoke Newington Literary Festival

Local festival

The second Stoke Newington Literary Festival once again is trying too hard. "When in Rome, do as Romans do" they say, but still I can hardly find words to describe my feelings for cycling section on a literary event (I can also suggest those who coasted comfortably to the meeting on their freewheels instead of pedalling the hell out of their fixies were banned from that meeting).

Literary festival: writing class

The writing workshop was probably nothing special for skilled speakers and writers (or should I say bloggers?), more a quiz game than a real study, but it was an unusual experience for us. I mean, an opportunity to listen to random people when they're trying to talk more wittily than in everyday life provides you with an understanding of the level your own jokes and tirades are at.

Literary festival: writing class

Also, the atmosphere was very good and you can't demand more from a social event which is not a lecture but a talk.

At The Drop

Another event we attended today was the celebration of Edgar Allan Poe who happened to to attend school here in Stock Newington, thus being the second great writer with a connection to the area after Daniel Defoe.

Unlike Defoe, Poe doesn't have a local pub named after him yet but a bust of him was unveiled today.

Literary festival: writers

There was a moment on that event when I felt a bit awkward. The panel of contemporary authors sharing their own feelings about Poe and his legacy eventually started to discuss if he was a racist or just a man of his times. Predictably, someone mentioned the recent case with Mark Twain's books revision to get the N-words removed. The argument continued for 5 minutes or so, and nobody of the panel members didn't go for any euphemisms in discussion using the very N-word instead.

Again, as I am not a native speaker that could be just me and okay in the given context, but still to me that was quite a dissonance with all that lefty social problems agenda.

It might seem like I am only grumbling but actually I liked the festival as I liked the first one a year ago. I really do value events taking place outside of the Central London in so-called villages that bear their own local spirit and this for sure wasn't the worst one. Next year I will be visiting (and complaining!) as well, and it's a shame I'm working tomorrow and so will miss the last day and the closure.