Thursday, 22 December 2011

2011: champagne bar or wheelie bin?!

It has been a bit of a curate’s egg, 2011. Parts of it have been very stressful others delightful. For me the worst thing was without doubt the Japanese Tsunami which upset me deeply, I am relieved my friends and their families are safe but feel for those less lucky.  The riots earlier in the year simply made me very angry, London is my city and I wish there were some way of simply evaporating those rioting morons out of it forever. The continued popularity of dire reality television and Cheryl Cole make me despair.

However there have been many good things; most of my friends and family have managed to stay healthy and sane. Some new little friends have arrived; hallo baby(s) Erin, Sophie, Veronica, Iris, Johnny and little Mason over in Seattle.  Here, like many others I am nominating things this year that I have personally liked/disliked about the past year. I know it is an unimaginative thing to do, I should really film myself as a bacon fairy torching a reindeer but I am frankly quite tired! So instead my own variation on the dreaded end of year list: Those that belong in the 'champagne bar' and others that deserve to be put in a 'wheelie bin'.

The champagne bar.

Good ‘vintage’ businesses. Because they have proved that if you do something well and with conviction you can rise above the plethora of risible so-called vintage businesses out there. Amongst the good examples this year have been: The Vintage Patisserie, HeydayClothing, Rockalily Lipsticks, Vivien of Holloway, Toprunway, Rocket Originals, What Katie Did and Able Grable . All are surviving the downturn and will survive the bursting of the ‘vintage’ bubble. Thanks for feeding/clothing/improving  me.

Dress from Heyday.

Barflying. It has been a good year for the cocktail bar. Too many have opened /refurbished for me to mention and I am glad as someone who does not really drink beer and is picky about wine to have alternatives. Along with a growth in the number of places taking cocktails seriously the attention to interior design and lux imbibing is appreciated. Subscribe to Diffords or follow Keith Barker Main to find out where to go. My favourite cocktail of 2011? The Twinkle.

The Beaufort Bar at the Savoy
Eurofood. My favourite food this year has mainly been Spanish particularly of the ham/cheese/mushroomy variety. Despite continuing to be fairly poorly for much of the year I have found the small, flavoursome dishes to be perfect and in London these days tapas bars have really upped their game. Sunshine lunches outside Dehesa with girlfriends are a perfect method for passing a summer afternoon. The most fun I have had in the winter has been long meals at Gastro in Clapham, snails in pernod and loads of wine.

Gastro Clapham

Small stylish clubbing. Best new club night of the year for me was the Candlelight Club, Clayton Hartley’s prohibition inspired speakeasy. Other promoters have jumped on this bandwagon but without the enthusiasm, interest and friendly hordes of this night. And you get sandwiches, and cocktails. The other things I enjoyed were the Society Club’s cinema nights at the Sanctum hotel and their shop/café counts as my opening of the year. Somewhere in Soho with dogs, smarts, friendly people and cakes? It’s a no brainer really. The Vintage Mafia Sale and Socials at the Loveshake were also a right giggle and some nice people got some storming and very cheap new togs.

The Candlelight Club.

Period dramas on television, especially the adaptation of the Crimson Petal and the White. Now Downton abbey might be laughable but its massive popularity and the kerching of the international tills means we will get more period drama. And with Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire and Mildred Pierce the 20th century was well covered too. Whilst you could say that TOWIE is Dickensian in its own way it, and its stablemates are dire lazy television. I would much rather have my escapism in a bonnet and my eye candy in breeches thank you very much.

Romola Garai in The Crimson Petal and the White.

The removal of bendy buses. How strange and fancy that: people travelling without paying the fare were also the people stealing your wallet, vomiting on their feet, fighting and not giving elderly ladies seats. Now you can sit down and mind your own business. Unless you are on the 29 which is iredeemable.

A bendy bus.

London cheek. Perhaps it is down to the riots, the recession or the fact you have to sit in a damp tent with no alcohol for days before the media notice you but there seems to be a bit more humour and irreverence on the streets. In my bit of London someone was knitting cosies for lampposts. There is more laughter in pubs, more cheeky graffiti and even the local rozzers have been jollier. A lot more fairs, festivals and open days at grass root levels seem to be happening. And a lot more of that ‘standing up for what you believe in’ stuff. Can’t be bad.

The Streatham Ninja Knitters and their bollard cosies...

The Wheelie Bin.

Mexican food has broken out all over London and on the whole I am very ho hum about it all, mostly it consists of cheap wraps with beans. I rate La Perla in Covent Garden for its excellent tequilas and have a soft spot for Mestizo but otherwise, nouveau Mexican? Yawn.  My other gripe is the Burger chain Byron, taking over nice buildings, distressing the interiors and charging a fortune for cheap food. The London middle classes can be right mugs.


Colebrooke Row: a good not up itself bar for proper drinkers.

Bars you have to make appointments for even on quiet nights, mainly in East London. You know you climb through a fridge or something, if they like you and they know you are coming. What a load of crap, you don’t have to make an appointment to drink at the Savoy but to sit in some ironically retro interior and sip molecular cocktails with a load of fashionable tossers you do. Well bollocks to that, I’m off to 69 Colebrooke Row for a proper drink.

A rather plain young man called Justin.

Music. Popular musical taste at the moment is horrendous. Of course I don’t have to buy it but I do have to listen to it. I have been forced to leave even really staid High Street shops due to the aural punishment inflicted on me. Rihanna, Beyonce,  Ndubz, Justin Bieber, The Saturdays, The Wanted, Florence and the Machine and that Doolittle girl.  Is it genetic this obsession with wailing R &B, dull guitar rock, remarketed prog-rock and craprap. Warbling singers are a real problem, and gobby girls with no manners and hair extensions, and twee breathy covers of classics like Tainted Love. Waaaaahhh!

Interestingly I had far more problems thinking of bad trends during the year which is positive. There is a lot to look forward to next year. Dickens, Stoker and MR James have notable anniversaries and we get an extra day off for the Queens Diamond Jubilee for which there is an inspired Thames river parade. Unfortunately we also have to endure the Olympics. On the other hand the new Hobbit film comes out at the end of it. And there is the new series of Sherlock, and some very good exhibitions. xxx

What have you loathed/loved about the year?


ReeRee Rockette said...

He he! Great summary!

Evadne Raccat said...

Surprisingly, for such a 'busy' news year, I have little to regret in 2011. The constant (negative) focus in the papers on those on Benefits, the Goverment's plans to privatise the NHS, the treatment of protesters, have been negative for me. The constant 'change' in the world - 'Arab Spring', deaths various world leaders, protests etc. has kept it interesting. But positive has been the enthusiasm and 'spirit' of the people I know, even when the News etc. is trying to make them feel hopeless and depressed. My friends keep dressing up, keep partying, and keep living - which is the best we can have. I just hope I can find somewhere else to be for the Olympics: London is going to be Hell.

Miss Matilda said...

As ever I love reading your blog and this post is wonderful, I shall reply to you via blog post xxx hehehe

Miss Matilda said... my reply xx

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