Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Blue Peter Proms

We treated the kids to a Blue Peter concert in this year's BBC Proms. Every year most of the Proms concerts are performed in the Royal Albert Hall and this kid's concert is no exception. We thought we were going to be late but we arrived with only 2 minutes to spare. There was not much time to enjoy the great architecture of the RAH and the surrounding buildings. Fortunately, I was able to quickly snap pictures of the Royal College of Music (see above left) which faces the back of the RAH along Prince Consort Road and the RAH itself (above right). I've always loved this circular building which superbly combines aesthetic beauty with being highly functional. And the acoutics, ah the acoustics of the place is excellent. Even if you're standing at the very back of the gallery, you can clearly hear even the softest notes from the orchestra. I particularly like those big round things hanging on the ceiling looking like a giant's buttons (see pic below).

The kids concert began with the Star Wars movie theme splendidly played by the BBC orchestra conducted by Jason Lai. It was glorious to hear and strengthened my opinion that there's really nothing better than listening to live music. The pieces were short and lively - Nutcracker Suite, Cinderella, some others by Britten and Debussy - designed with kids' attention span in mind of course. Then culminating, as usual, with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance with the audience singing lustily the Land of Hope and Glory. There was also a short performance by a magician and his apprentice fittingly done while the Sorcerer's Apprentice was being played. Like in any party, they let out a whole lot of balloons after the concert which means a free-for-all grab down at the arena.

Those were the best seat we had in RAH. We were right smack in the middle with no one in front and none at the back. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I could see my kids did, too. Although by the middle of it J3 was taking more interest in stacking up the programs on the floor. ;)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Scaredy Cat

A day after the spate of failed bombing attempts in central London (really they could have tested it on themselves first) and on the same day when a suspected bomber was shot dead by the police, I was in my usual route home sitting pretty at the top level of a double decker bus. It was uneventful until a young man boarded and went upstairs. He walked down the aisle and paused by the empty seat in front of me. With wide eyes he asked me if it was mine while pointing to something on the floor. I sat upright and craned my neck toward the seat in front, that was the only time I saw a black rucksack on the floor apparently abandoned by its owner. I shook my head in the negative while we exchange worried glances. Could it be a bomb? He immediately went down and informed the driver who stopped right away at a bus stop a few meters away. The driver came up, took one look at the bag and told us to evacuate. Within seconds the bus was empty. I strongly suspect it was left by the absent minded teenager who sat in front of me. But during these times it's best to err on the side of caution and be prudent.

You could see the worry and mild sense of panic among us passengers. Everybody was quick out of the door and good on that young man who was vigilant and conscientious enough to inform the driver. I have to admit I was a bit shaken. I just hope things can be done so we can go on with our lives peacefully. My mind says - no need to worry there's nothing to it - but my feeling of anxiousness doesn't leave me even now and I don't know why. I hate feeling like this simply because it means something bad is or is about to happen. My eternal problem is to whom is it happening? Myself? My family? A friend? From the frequency of the 'rumble' it had something to do with the collective society we're in but in all honesty I've got no clue babe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Harry's Magic

*** Warning Spoilers ***

I find it funny that not only the latest Harry Potter book enchanted us with a great novel but also wove its magic in our household. After buying 2 copies of the HP6 book first thing in the morning on the first day that it was out, J1 and J2 and me were deep in speed reading what happened next to the boy wizard. For 2 days the whole house was eerily quiet. Heehee. I definitely am not complaining though they were even uncommonly subdued after finishing it. I only found out why when I finished it last night after a lot of housework interruptions – you know inconsequential things like cooking, laundry, and sweeping the floor. ;) This is probably the only HP book that left me feeling crestfallen afterwards. We were comparing notes and observations at dinner time and the three of us felt like we lost a relative or something. The shock of finding out a central character died, who was much more lovable and respected than Sirius Black, plus the realisation that circumstances is forcing Harry to grow-up and go it alone probably sobered all of us up and now grasped that the next installment will be more adult like in content rather than your usual happy-fantasy-magical world.

HP6 is good though the third and the fourth book are still my favourites. There are the funny bits like the quidditch commentary of Luna Lovegood and Ron’s sarcastic quips. Even in the dangerous bowels of the cave with Dumbledore, the author still managed to sneak something comical. Snape came out as an unmistakeable baddie in this one though I think there’s more to his character in the next installment. Slughorn, the professor, was quite a good character insert. However, that scene on Bill’s hospital bed when Tonks and Lupin professed their undying love to each other was simply corny. Excuse me folks while I retch in a second. Yeeeccchhh!! Over-acted love scenes like those of old romantic movies like Gone With The Wind? Nah, shouldn’t be in an HP book. And what with all those snogging? There’s no need to hash it over and over again although I’d think mid-teeners might like them. So as far as the lovefest was concerned – it’s Ron and Hermione, Tonks and Lupin, Harry and Ginny but they broke up in the end. Actually, I am still hoping that Harry and Hermione end up together – they complement and would be brilliant for each other.

Reading this book was a pleasure and we in our family dearly hope that JK Rowling would not take another 2 years to come up with the next and (hopefully not) final installment of Harry’s adventure. Waiting was so tormenting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

How I Get to Work

In 6 months' time I probably won't be coming to my current place of work because of the impending redundancy we're facing. For posterity's sake, I'm showing here how I get to work in the last 10 years that I've been in this company. It was a hard slog the first few months but I got used to it in the long run.

First off, I walk or take a short bus ride to the train station from home. Walking takes about 10-15 minutes while the bus ride is about 3-5 minutes if there's no traffic. At the train station, I take a train towards the direction of London for about three stops.

Then I take this relatively new tram system. This is a favourite of commuters around the area because of its accessibility (no need to go up and down stairs) and efficiency (almost always punctual). It's a short 2 stops for me before I get off and take a ...
double decker bus for the final leg of my journey. I always take a seat upstairs. So nice to sit high up and have an eagle's eye view of things happening on the ground. The bus goes to all high streets, main streets and winds thru cork screw roads for, oh about 6-7 miles before it drops me off almost in front of our building. So this is what I might go thru every day - 2 buses, 1 tram, and 1 train. Then I do it all over again on the way home. All in a day's work ... ;)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

After the Euphoria Comes the Grief

Because I was busy fielding calls, text messages, and emails from concerned loved ones and friends I completely forgot to blog about the bombing this morning in central London. First of all, to my relatives and friends I just want you to know that we're all doing okay here. I just hugged them a little tighter tonight. Thank you to all who contacted us, we deeply appreciate your concern.

It was not a nice feeling though of being greeted by talks of bombs, terrorists, death before you even sit down for work first thing in the morning. When just yesterday we were punching our fists in the air in jubilation. Once again I feel so sad for the way people treat with utmost disregard the lives of their fellow human beings.

Inspite of the carnage and mayhem in the capital, I take my hat off to the utter professionalism of the London emergency services (fire, police, ambulances) in the swift, calm, and efficient manner that they attended to those affected. Their diligence in preparing and rehersing in the past few years for this inevitability has positively paid off. And you have to hand it to the British public as well when hysteria and panic may be justified in the turn of events, they chose to deal with it in a calm and rational way.

These terrorists may think that this atrocities will break the spirit of the country, ironically it brought about the reverse. Like in America after 9/11, it incensed and brought together people of differing and opposing views to fight these terrorists and refuse to be bowed by them.

I'm glad to see as well that bloggers were one of the first ones to report and express outrage at these despicable cowardly acts.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

London 2012 Olympics

London won the bidding for the 2012 Olympics! Woohoo!!!
It was announced at around 12:46BST today in Singapore. It took sometime before the whole of our office learned about it since I think all the local news websites came to a standstill probably due to record number of hits. I for one, kept on clicking at the BBC site but just a few minutes before the announcement no one can access it. So I had to call home and ask my husband to switch on the telly. Sure enough there were scenes of jubilation both in Singapore and Trafalgar Square.

Paris was the early favourite and was expected by many to win it. But at the end, the London delegation pulled through. Besides the excellent presentations they made, they also bombarded the voting delegates with lobbying from a number of sporting heroes and celebrities like David Beckham and politicians like Tony Blair who took a whistle stop visit to Singapore from his hectic schedule as the host of the current G8 meeting in Scotland. Well done chaps! And here's to the next 7 years of building and preparation for the big event.

Hopefully this would mean more jobs (especially IT ones) and business opportunities in the greater London area.