Saturday 30 April 2016

Star Log Entry 8: 5 years on at Oxfam Bookshop... coffee lunch

Tuesday 1st November 2011 

I haven’t given much thought today but I did spend some time dwindling on it last night. Apart from that – nothing! I guess I don’t get many customers asking me out for coffee, well, none at all apart from the one. But I don’t quite see how much further a coffee can go forth between us. 

Being on the till to cover for a volunteer as he has his timely cigarette breaks, I saw come through the door was – yet again – the mysterious man. He smiled and said hi to me and I did the same back. He looked through the comics again and slowly but assuredly came up with another pile for £20. I gave to him for £15. He thanked and headed to the exit. Just then the volunteer returned to the till and I got off it.

He got to the door once I got off and suddenly took one step aside to the graphic design section. I was going to go up to him and ask if anything caught his eye there, but without warning, he turned around and walked straight up to me. He asked in a rapid line of succession: “Do you want to have lunch together? Have you already had lunch? Are you allowed a lunch break now?” Amazed at such proposals in such thrust, I responded “Ok. Yeah, I’m allowed a lunch break.” 

I opened the staff door and asked the manager who was standing behind if it was possible to have a lunch now. A surprised look drew on John’s face and he replied, “Yeah.” It was the first lunch break I had whilst being there excluding the time I was forced to have lunch when I was doing Asda as well. In the next few weeks, things were going to look up from then on but I didn’t anticipate it but I had an inkling. 

It was cloudy that day if I remembered correctly. We walked down Bloomsbury Street and took a left into New Oxford Street. He asked me whether I smoked but I said no, and then we went inside Costa. We found a brown standalone sofa, an oval-shaped coffee table and an elongated brown sofa. I told him to sit down and asked what he wanted. He refused but he could see that I wouldn’t take no for an answer. He requested to have medium black coffee and so I ordered the same for myself. Once two cups of medium-sized coffee were produced, I had the next challenge of balancing it on the tray to where it was to settle it down to.  

We sat down and the mysterious guy introduced himself as “John”. My first thought – dear God! The show must go on! I then introduced myself. He noted how surprised he was at how it wasn’t really busy especially during lunch hours. He said he worked in Bush House in Aldwych and the first image to come up was this obscured business building stuck in-between other buildings lining Kingsway. He showed me an image of Bush House and I was still none the wiser on the whereabouts. What I did notice was that when he looked it up, he had pressed the back of his hand against my knee. When he looked down, he had noticed that we both shared similar styled shoes. We both had brown canvas shoes with white stripes running on the side. Then I joked that I definitely was not stalking him to his workplace, which he jokily done an action of me at his workplace window peeping in. 

We then proceeded on to many topics such as books and I recommended “Clockwork Orange”. Then I said that I thought that the film was filmed in Richmond which I was hugely mistaken after he looked it up on his iPhone 4S. Then we started to talk about films. I told him I still had many films to watch but I couldn’t really find the time to do so. The first one being a documentary “Objectified”, “the film that Bill Murray was in” and the other being original “The Wicker Man”. He looked up Objectified and I even I didn’t know what the film was about.  

He brushed his hand against mine (hmmm…) and remarked that they were cold. I responded that it was really cold and held his hand with my right hand to show that it was cold. He then said I should set my hands underneath my legs while I’m sitting on the “Captain Kirk” chair behind the till. He demonstrated and rocked side to side with a smile and eyes lids going up to create somewhat of a cute charm. 

Then we talked about Comic Mart but didn’t come up to me as he saw my friend come up. Tim was the one I asked to come with me to Comic Mart. I was checking out the cards of a seller until Tim popped up. Tim had to leave early as he had to visit a friend up north; nevertheless it was a nice gesture for him to still come. I tried to think back to the Mart but I couldn’t picture John anywhere at all. Then I just told him that I had to go get my last payslip from McDonalds tomorrow. 

It was approaching 2pm and it was time for John to make a move. He had already finished his coffee by then so I had to make a move on mine. In one swift swoop, I drank the bitter coffee in one go. And then it hit me. I leaned to the side on the armrest and could feel every bit of me numbing up. Literally every bit of my body felt numb while a tingling sensation coursed its way around my body. My entire body was starting to heat up. I shot up and then he asked for my number. I gave it to him and then he said he’ll text me later.  

Exiting out the shop, we said goodbye to each other. I gave the eerily long gaze back to him. I did something very out of the blue and ran into the archway into the passage two shops next to Costa going back to the shop. Once inside, John had asked me to go on the till. I noticed I was shaking considerably but the sensations felt were all gone.  

Then I received a text from John at 14:44:
Thanks again for the coffee and the chat. I’ve woken up now! It was lovely! Have a good afternoon! Jon xx
He eventually got me to come out to him a week later and we were together for a year, but we wanted different things from the relationship so I walked. It took a lot out of me so I left Oxfam for a bit, changed my number and didn’t speak to any of my friends for the next few months. 

I bumped into Jon in Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road 8 months later and have since remained as good friends, and still go to geek fairs and conventions together. He was actually the person that suggested that I get into blogging but it wasn't until I met Ed that I decided to go for it.

Friday 29 April 2016

Jacques Lipchitz - Bellerophon Taming Pegasus

The imagery shows Greek hero Bellerophon as he interweaves with winged horse Pegasus. Lipchitz wanted an imagery here to represent man dominating nature. It is said that Bellerophon tamed Pegasus so that they rode off to kill the Chimera as penance for Bellerophon’s rejection of Queen Argus’s advancement. The sculpture is part of the Broadgate Art Trail.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Somerset House - Venturing Beyond Residency: Antwan Horfée and Russell Maurice

Somerset House lay host to two artists Antwan Horfée and Russell Maurice for the Venturing Beyond exhibition as part of Utopia 2016. From 13 to 20 April, both artists took residency in the Courtyard Rooms of Somerset House to create live works themed on the exhibition and exploring "comic abstractions".

The pieces will run alongside the main exhibition until 2 May 2016.

#utopia2016 #venturingbeyond

Monday 25 April 2016

George Segal - Rush Hour

Rush Hour represents what some of us would feel like the end of the day as you make your way home. The sculpture shows 6 figures as wade through the British weather in damp-looking rain jackets. Segal used live models of family and friends moulding them in wire mesh and plaster bandages. They were then cut free, leaving an empty case, which were then wielded shut to form these bronze piece of a sculpture. The sculpture forms as part of the Broadgate Art Trail.

Saturday 23 April 2016

Star Log Entry 7: 5 years on at Oxfam Bookshop... guy with weird looks

Monday 31st October 2011

In the midst of the gloomy morning did I not think for a second that something was to come off that day. It was going to be an average day where I went back to the bookshop to run through the usual work errands did I not stop to think that in that afternoon everything was to change for me…
Coming up from the basement of the shop to replenish the shelves on the shop floor, I had only gone through the door to catch eye with the person at the comic book boxes at the till. He looked and gave me this eerily long and otherwise unsettling gaze. He raised his right eyebrow and I smiled. Who was this man?
In my natural defence, I backed up through the door and went back into the basement. Upon getting downstairs, I had told my manager of my situation saying, “There’s a guy upstairs giving me weird looks.” So we both ascended the stairs to deduce what is to become of this man.

Once upstairs, I had seen that the man in question wasn’t at the comic books no more and that he had now moved to the film section. On further precedence, I went up to him and popped the first question to break the ice: “Any good finds?”
He slightly lifted up his comics he had handpicked earlier on in his response. It was only then that I was called up to the till to cover for the person leaving. Upon taking my place, the mysterious man came up to the till and said that he saw me at the “Comic Mart”. Fumbling through my brain, my first impression was the seller who sold me the collectable cards. Just to make sure, I looked him up and down. He had a flat cap on, navy in colour with a blue jacket on. He was sort of on the broader side – size-wise. He had narrow eyes and slightly off-the-beat eyebrows that seem to brood over his eyes keeping it hidden in plain sight. That seemed ridiculously mysterious in itself. Was he Buffy Man? If he was, there is definitely no saying that he had put on a bit of weight if he was.
He could see that I didn’t remember him in any form or way so he asked, “what did you get at the mart?” Great, an opportunity to find out who he really is! “I got some Buffy cards.” That didn’t prompt any facial reaction. I was wrong. Great! What was I supposed to do now? I continued to pretend that I remember him but I did realise that he clearly knew that I couldn’t recall him at all. In all honesty, I couldn’t remotely recall him at all. I then told him that I usually just stay until the door closes in on the Comic Mart.

He had already counted up the comics which he called to £20 and said I should check it to confirm. Feeling guilty of having already that I lied to him, I said, “let’s go for £10” to which he thanked me.
With the next comic mart coming up on the following Sunday, he asked me whether I wanted to grab coffee after. The first thought that came into my head was of this small coffee shop with metal chairs and round metal tables, much like the ones they have in fish and ships shop. The second thought I had was of annoyance, mainly from the fact that I had already told him I was to stay until the end around 4pm, which I was to return to Oxfam to see the rest of the Sunday posse. “OK. Yeah. Sure.”
He thanked me again and went to the exit before turning around to smile and wave. I couldn’t help but notice that the sun was shining outside so I couldn’t help but smile and waved back. Once his departure in the store was felt, the manager asked me, “Who was he?”
“He’s Buffy Man…” I replied. Then another thought popped into my head - how do you have coffee?
To be continued…

Friday 22 April 2016

Somerset House - Venturing Beyond: Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street

The Venturing Beyond exhibition is produced and curated by A(by)P with Somerset House, and is part of the Utopia 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility. The exhibition provides a platform for the artists to explore in taking a "risk for something more". The artworks grow to address the visuals of going beyond the norm of what is depicted in society. The exhibition explores the experimentation of art in forcing down any barriers leading to different possibilities. 17 artists took part in this exhibition with some of them below:

Husmitnavn (L - R) Busy Doing Nothing, Watching Out. Roll Up

Husmitnavn (L - R) The Shadow, Escapism

Revok - _5.A_Magenta_

Lucas Dillon (L - R) The Blind Leading the Blinds, Expecting to Leave, Organic Shrapnel (I), The Sound of Confusion, The Eternal Drunk (Throwing Beans), The Baboonaries of Us

Antwan Horfée - Blur 1, 2 and 3

Mishap Hollenbeck (L - R) Uberraschunseffekte I, No News (1,2 and 3), Reformation I, II, III

Saeio (L - R) - Oil 1, 2 and 3

Saeio - Lacquer/Ink 1
 #VenturingBeyond #Utopia2016

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Tech Talk: Windows 8.1 - Internet Explorer 11 (modeless version)

Windows 8.1 had improvements over its predecessor such as improved security, snazzier tools for favourites and synced settings. Moving forwards into Windows 10, Microsoft have dropped the Internet Explorer brand in aid of their Edge browser.

Windows IE 11 has two versions, the "modeless" app version, which is opened from the Start Screen or the Apps view, and the more traditional Desktop version.

The modeless app version adopts its name from being able to go full-screen without any borders and no visible option to close the application (at first). This is to allow much ease navigating around the web without any background distractions getting in the way of the experience, whether it is through a touch screen or the traditional click and go.
1. Web page
The display of the web page takes up this space once the page is loaded. There are options to go back and forward a page by swiping or clicking from the left or the right side of the screen.

2. Navigation tab
This shows a thumbnail of the page most visited or current page opened. Live tiles can be added which displays the current content in a thumbnail. Right click or hold a tab to bring up options to close the tab, duplicate or open the tab in a window (which comes up side-by-side immediately). Simply click/tap the cross to close the tab.

3. New tab
Click/tap to add a new tab. An unlimited amount of tabs can be opened as opposed to Internet Explorer 10 which could only open 10 tabs.

4. Tab tools
Options to go incognito for private browsing and to open the last closed tab.

5. Back button
Go back to the previous webpage.

6. Address bar
Type the address of the website that you wish to view. Suggestions may pop up or if accessed before, the website will come up above to access quickly. If synced with any other devices, the history will be displayed from the other device.

7. Go/Refresh button
This button is the "go" button if the webpage is being accessed or the "refresh" button if the webpage requires updating.

8. Tabs
Opens up a view of the current open tabs including thumbnails.

9. Favourites bar
View added favourites from devices such as phones (if synced) and add new content/webpages to favourites with a few clicks or add a webpage to the Start Screen. There is also an option to share the page through apps or a screenshot to the internet.

10. Tools
  • Get app for this site - able to go the Windows App Store and locate the app for the website. Examples include eBay and River Island.
  • Find on page - locate text(s) within the webpage
  • Report website problems - send feedback to Microsoft if there is an issue on a particular URL.
  • View on the desktop - view the page in the Desktop version of the browser.
  • View downloads - see the last lot of downloads made through the browser
  • Options - can be accessed via the Charms bar. It provides customisation to the overall experience such as how it reads (colours, fonts, etc.), zoom and showing of the address bar and tabs. Options to save passwords and access phone numbers from the browser can be turned on and off. The history can accessed here.
11. Forward
Cycle forwards through a series of pages. Only applicable if the back button has been used.

Monday 18 April 2016

Jacques Rival - IFO

The IFO, also known as the Identified Flying Object, is created by Jacques Rival and is situated at the Battle Bridge Place of King's Cross. It was installed in 2011 as part of RELAY, the first King's Cross art programme celebrating the area's heritage and future.
The sized-up "birdcage" is at 9m high and 6m wide with bars more than big enough for people to walk through and play with the swing at the centre. At night, the artwork becomes alight with neon rainbow colours lighting up against its backdrop using LED lights. The structure is made of steel.
On special occasions, the artwork is lifted into the air as it illuminates in the night sky.

Sunday 17 April 2016

Star Log Entry 6: 5 years on at Oxfam Bookshop... Marie

In a previous Star Log entry, I mentioned my meeting my new family on my first day at Oxfam Bookshop, and there are so many absolutely wonderful peeps at the bookshop that truly have become like family to me. There is someone else that I met through the bookshop... and that was Marie.

She was an intern from France and was interning as a assistant manager in the shop in 2011. We hit it off from the get-go with her taste in music and her vast knowledge in popular culture. We would talk about so many geeky stuff such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Desperate Housewives (cough, cough), our love of Lady Gaga and other things to name a few.

She had a warm and endearing nature, and looked out for me whenever I was there. I wouldn't take any lunch breaks or any break for a matter of fact, so she would pop down to Ben's Cookies during her lunch break and get me a cookie. And even then, I would go home and offer it to my mum first. There was another time when another intern made a joke about my sexuality to which she stood up for me and told me to just ignore him, which I really appreciated.

As a send-off when she was to return back to France, I remember telling her that she is a total geek without knowing it and got her a comic book as a staple of her geekhood. She got me a card and the one thing that struck me was that she wrote that I shouldn't forget to think a bit more about myself. I have ever since then, strived to put a balance in honour of generosity, kindness and heart to give something back but to also think about myself as well.

Sadly, we lost contact since she left as Ed and I were never able to decipher her e-mail that she jotted down in the card, but I am very grateful for having met her.

Friday 15 April 2016

Broadgate Art Trail

The Broadgate Art Trail are a collection of artworks from the vaults of Broadgate that form a route in and around the Broadgate area. The artworks are all available for view with some “hidden gems” (the ones indoors) require authorisation from the Broadgate team for photographic purposes or through the Broadgate Art Trail tour which is done during the Open House weekend.
1. Rush Hour - George Segal
2. Finsbury Avenue Lit Floor - SOM and Maurice Brill Lighting Design
It is seen in the dark so best to venture to it in the dark night to see the full effects of the 100,000 energy efficient LED lights as they strike up 10 different displays. Each display lasts as long as it takes for someone to cross the square. The installation won the International Association of Lighting Designers’ Award of Excellence in 2004.
3. Bellerophon Taming Pegasus - Jacques Lipchitz
4. Fulcrum - Richard Serra
Like Marmite, the Fulcrum is an installation that people will either love or either hate. There are 5 sheets of Cor-Ten steel used to provide an illusion that they support and slightly overlap each other. There are three entrances which encourages passerby to enter and look up through the 55 feet high structure as they see the opening giving a view of the sky.
5. Leaping Hare on Crescent and Bell (1988) - Barry Flanagan
The hare is a recurring theme in Flanagan’s works and often take on different human forms such as dancing or juggling. This artwork shows the Hare as it leaps high above the air rising above a crescent moon and a huge bell underneath. This is part of a series of talking statues.
6. Alchemy - Lincoln Seligman
7.  Venus - Jim Dine
8. Mechanics Institute - William Tillyer
This abstract painting of landscape brings out the different colours of architecture, coloud, sky and foliage. Tillyer was inspired by artists coming forward to Broadgate to create this piece to compare the solidarity of architecture to the fluidity of nature.
9. Eye-I - Bruce McLean
This steel sculpture paints a abstract face as she gives a wink and blows a kiss with her blond hair to the side. She performs against a backdrop the hustle and bustle of City workers, architectural buildings and the sky. 
10. Colour Eclipse - Danny Lane
11. Ceramic Sculpture - Joan Grady Artigas
The artwork reflects the scenic beauty of the water-like features of the sky as it surrounds the red, black and white base represented as rocks reflecting the buildings of Broadgate. Reminiscent of Catalan, the ceramics were painted by hand and placed together making a structure several stories high collectively.
12. Broadgate Venus - Fernando Botero
The Broadgate Venus is the much loved sculpture of Exchange Square with a lot of passer-by taking snaps with the large and curvaceous nude sculpture. She provides romance in the air as she reclines and gazes across the square and Liverpool Street Station.
13. Water Feature - SOM and Stephen Cox
This Japanese inspired water feature can be found in the piazza of Exchange Square where anyone can enjoy a sit down next to and admire the visual beauty and the trickles of running water as it cascades down wondrously. 
15. For George’s Sake - Marta Rogoyska
Striking, bold and colourful, this piece adds a pop burst against the grey-stoned walls. Originally, the 8-metre artwork was created for a nursery of a country house, which the artwork plays on the fun and playfulness to release the child in all of us.
16. The Broad Family - Xavier Coberó
Corberó’s installation The Broad Family sparks off different forms of human emotion in juxtapositions such as togetherness and separation to innocence and experience. From afar, it may appear that they are huge lug of rocks put together but on closer inspection they can form individual figures and an object. In the installation, you can make out the father, mother, child (with shoes poking out), a dog and a ball. There is space between each figure showing that giving space to each other is at times very welcoming.
17. Ganapathi & Devin - Stephen Cox
Standing in their own distinct space, yet linked together, are two pieces Ganapathi and Devi. They were named after Hindi elephant god Ganesha and Hindu Goddess Devi. The pieces hark back to periods of history and ancient civilisation. 

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Tech Talk: Windows 8.1 - Start Bar

The Start bar gives access to a list of open applications giving quick access to opening it up or placing them side-by-side. It also allows quick access between the Start Screen and the most recently used app.
Similar to the Charms bar, it can be accessed in two ways:
  • Touch-screen: From the left side of the touch-screen, swipe and hold the last app used and bring it to the left again. 
  • Mouse: Go to the corner of the left side of the screen, and depending on where your mouse cursor is, swipe down or up with the cursor.
Once the app is brought up, it can be snapped to the side of another opened application. The open apps can be cycled through by pressing Alt and Tab buttons on the keyboard.

Monday 11 April 2016

David Batchelor - Chromorama

David Batchelor's sculpture is situated at Sun Street Square which features a totem of 35 light boxes that shines bright with a spectrum of colours. The colours are placed as a pattern as they rotate it's way to the top of the installation. It has to be viewed both in the day and the night to fully marvel at the textures that the environment feeds with the artwork.

The artwork employs recycled materials found in everyday objects and industrial materials, exploring the interaction we have with colours with the modern age of technology. This is placed by office buildings adding to that full feel to the artwork of industrial, working environment.

Another David Batchelor art installation can be viewed at More London with his Evergreen artwork reflected between nature and office buildings.

Sunday 10 April 2016

Star Log Entry 5: 5 years on at Oxfam Bookshop... scrapbook

At a time when I was ever on the tills at the bookshop, I'd find ways to keep myself entertained as we were not to leave the tills unless someone else takes over. There was a customer request book which no one ever used, so I started to start my own doodle/scrap book. I made sure to hide it away for my own creative emergencies so no one would catch wind of it, but it was inevitable that someone would find it and somehow everyone linked me to it as you will see. I eventually stopped doodling going into 2012 and took the book home as people kept taking bites out of the pages.
This was a quick drawing to May who did not know about Doctor Who's greatest foe the Daleks. My good friend Lesley stuck it in to the scrap book.

Random doodles

Having a Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights moment and was drawn after the previous one.
More random doodles

I believe it was cloudy the day I was drawing this.

One of the volunteers Rob drew this and I thought it was pretty cool.

A drawing of a witch in a storm

Found a orange colouring pencil at the till so draw this up.


Resting in serene grace.

Oxfam logo!

Top bit was drawn by Macy who somehow found out the doodles were done by me. She drew this up when I got my a new job offer!

I happen to find this note out of the blue and was surprised that Holy found out about my doodle book!

Done over a period of three days which I was very proud of.