Monday, May 31, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #405] Dinner in the Gherkin

Last Friday my friend Lottie got us a reservation in the Gherkin for dinner -- in a private dining room -- followed by drinks in the bar. I've waxed lyrically about the Gherkin nearly endlessly, so I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Cheers,
Shaun


Predrinks were at The Planet of the Grapes; each of these pictures are purported to be of people who died of alcoholism.


Fantastic bottle of wine! Buy it if you see it.


I don't care how many times I see it, it's awesome.


Security to get in is Heathrowesque.


Private dining is the way forward!


The dining room.


The dining room.


Kimberly looking out the best loo hallway view in the world.

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #404] My 15 seconds

When I lived in America, I listened religiously* to NPR's Marketplace on my commute home.  They also have a weekend show, Marketplace Money**, that's a wrap-up of the week as well as an in-depth look at  financial/economic matters.  Before many of you start yawning, they cover things in a very topical, lively, entertaining, relevant and, importantly, light manner.

After last week's show I wrote in a comment about one of the stories and the producer wrote back that he thought it was a great suggestion.  Tonight he called me and asked me to read the suggestion for the show. So, for the one or possibly two of you who don't already listen to Marketplace Money on the radio or by podcast, tune in this weekend!

Cheers,
Shaun


Marketplace Money: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/episodes/show_rundown.php?show_id=8

*Purposely chosen for its incongruity
**I can honestly recommend listening to this regularly.  Those who are into this sort of thing naturally will be all over it.  But even if you're not, it's a good way to keep up with what's going on and maintaining your financial literacy without getting bored.

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

[The Life of Shaun #403] Collective plural

This is for the grammar nerds amongst us; the rest can comfortably hit delete now.

Hopefully (ie, it is hoped) you watched this week's American Idol for a live example.  If so, you would have heard when Simon Cowell said "The band were good..."

Very shortly after moving here I heard this construction, incorrect in the American vernacular, which I, rightly or not, call the 'collective plural'.  I watched AI with a Dutch and an American friend (since no British people live in London) and Simon's comment triggered a discussion about this topic.

In America, we would say "The band was good", and here they say "The band were good."  Garret (American) took it as a cultural grammatical difference, Lottie (Dutch) considered it just incorrect.  I pointed out that they say it like that on the BBC and, therefore, it's correct (everyone agreed).

But the conversation got interesting (to those of our ilk) when I counterpointed their grammatical arguments with my thoughts on it.  When I first heard a comment along the lines of "The team were on form tonight" or somesuch, my thought didn't wander immediately to the grammar. I thought "Oh, in America, when we refer to the team, we think of the unit. Here, they think of the individuals that make up the team."  Different perspective.

And then I quietly went along, slowly and unconsciously adapting the collective plural, until the conversation came up tonight. Lottie and Garret had never thought of it in the same light as I had.  So is it a grammatical difference, or a social/perspective difference? If the latter, there might be a PhD topic there.

Would love to hear thoughts from the aforementioned grammar nerds out there.

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com

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Monday, May 03, 2010

E2

Today I cheated on E1 and took a walk around the gem of E2, Bethnal Green. A couple weeks ago, the free Tower Hamlets newspaper published a walk of the month of the area, and I saved it for a day I felt like exploring.

I'd been to Bethnal Green before, for this or that, and definitely liked it, but I never really saw much off the high street. Turns out, it's quite a cool neighbourhood. It's urban at its core, but surprisingly bucolic for East London. Bethnal Green Road is a suture across E2, bringing together two realities of the East End; urban hipsters and hirsute hotties pour in from Shoreditch to the North, and the South Asian masses of Shadwell's Siamese twin, Whitechapel, come up from below. Trendily edgy caf├ęs, diners and bars tactfully mix with kebab shops, pound savers and pubs (and a full-sized Tesco).

As you head North from the high street, the urban edge quickly gives way to lazy streets with stately stone terraced homes, trees and bushes more typical in W postcodes, and before you know it you are skirting along some of the East's premier destinations. Columbia Road Flower Market, Hackney City Farm, Broadway Market and (the heavily underused) Victoria Park hem in Bethnal Green from Hackney. The whole area is interspersed with parks, churches, plenty of housing stock that survived the Blitz and a relative dearth council estates. Shoreditch is a comfortable walk away, and there is a tube and an overland direct into Liverpool Street. What a lucky little corner of London.

Attached are some photos of my local ramble, full set at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=222493&id=713081334&l=7d6a6358a9

Cheers,
Shaun


Bethnal Green's Banksy


Hackney City Farm


Graffiti next to Haggerston Park


Where the ├╝bercool Broadway Market meets the Regent's Canal


An urban stretch of the canal


Ah, home!


Where London taxis go to die


Random small art studio on a back alley; how very East indeed


Entrance to Victoria Park


The canal goes green


About the park (it was opened in 1850 by Queen Victoria as a means to improve the lives and health of London's East Enders)


The park, if you're into that sorta thing


Duty, indeed!


Terraced homes of Bethnal Green


York Hall, opened in 1929 by the Duke & Dutchess of York. It now has spa treatments in addition to its original pools and gym


The tube


Bethnal Green Road


La Forchetta, a nod back to Clerkenwell

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.nocirc.org
http://shaunism.blogspot.com