Showing posts from August, 2008

Friday night in Glasgow

Chris and I ventured into Glasgow last night. We went to a bunch of bars.

Starting at Revolver in John Street. We've been there before but realised last night that when we *loved* it last time it was after a night of trawling around a series of desperate bars looking for "the one" and ending up there very late and very drunk. It wasn't so charming at 20.30! So we looked further afield. Now, last time we went out in Glasgow we struggled to find any bars that were not full of twinks or malnourished queens dancing to bad pop with their chubby fag hags. Things seems to have changed, we found several "new" bars. They all seemed fine and pleasant and then it dawned on us, they all had the same feel and finish. It's like someone has suddenly decided to invest a bunch of money into gay bars in Glasgow. They were all immaculately finished and well run but tragically all lacked any character. The venues (Speak Easy, The Lounge and Delmonicas) were all very busy (i…

No we wouldn't mind seeing her at Harrod's

Just spotted this. They have temporarily opened the Harrods building in BsAs (that's how all the people in the know abbreviate Buenos Aires, don't you know). Apparently it's the second time they've opened it in the last 20 years. This time for a Tango Festival. What a great idea. You can check out more pics here.

From wikipedia, the Harrods in BsAs was the only branch outside the UK. The store became independent of the UK mother-store in the late 40s but still traded under the name until it closed. (I think... still researching, in the 90s).

Harry Benson

It only just hit me today. I've finished work! Although it feels like I'm on holiday... I'm not really. Well a really long one at least. I went for a stroll this afternoon and was heading home, thinking about how to spend the evening when I realised it didn't matter. Not because I need an early night but mainly because I'm under no pressure to "make the most" of my time. I have 9 months to do that.

This afternoon I went to the Harry Benson exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery. I have to confess I knew very little of his work before we went but was impressed by the extraordinary range of his photographs. From celebrity to war photographs, he seems to have done it all. His celebs shots, IMHO, are a little lacklustre, often a bit mundane by today's standards but I can imagine that 30 years ago they made a splash.

Hugo and Ken sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I...

Ken Livingstone and Hug Chávez go way back. Recently Boris cancelled a deal brokered by the former London mayor to swop London "expertise" for subsidised Venezuelan for London's buses

According to the Guardian, Ken is now going to be an adviser to Caracas in a private capacity.

"I believe that Caracas will become a first-world city in 20 years. I have a very extensive network of contacts both domestically and internationally which I will be calling on to assist in this," he told reporters at the presidential palace after meeting Chávez.

The Guardian

3 related statistics?

I was entertained by the last three entries in The Argentine Post. Apparently (if the stats are to be believed), Argentines (as a population reduced to little more than a stat here), believe in God more than then they want Barrack Obama to win and they want that more than they approve of Cristina Kirchner. I wonder if there is an correlation.

The Official Story - Part Two

Finally got the chance to watch The Official Story. Great Film. It tells the story of a Argentine woman in 1983 who starts to suspect her adopted daughter might be the orphan of a "disappeared" couple, murdered by the Military Junta. Very moving indeed.

Leaving London

I'm in Glasgow. We came up this afternoon. It was a strange experience leaving London after having lived there for 12 years. But... I'll be back in 9 months (and in fact am back for "one night only" next week to go see Joan Rivers.

Driving from Glasgow airport to my mother's house, I spotted a poster for a local production of Evita! It's a sign, I'm sure of it. Recently, I've been so busy that I've lost focus on the fact that I'm moving to Argentina! I suspect a night at the theatre singing along to "What's New Buenos Aires" is all I need to get back into the swing of things. It's almost like the baby Jesus (or is that Baby Eva) has planned it for me. We are thinking of going on Monday night.

Madonna in Argentina

They've just announced a date for Madonna'stour hitting Buenos Aires!. 6 December. Hmmm, I wonder?

Will the glamour never end?

It's been a busy weekend. It's officially our last in London and we're "making the most of it".

Friday night was dinner on the South Bank with Chris' colleague Evelyn and Fiona.

On Saturday we drove to Cardiff to see the opening night of Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour. We drove up and down in one day. The concert was great - really fun. We went with Fiona and Pauline who were superb company. Madge looked great although we couldn't help but make jokes about her robot like physique. Great thighs. I particularly enjoyed the Keith Haring inspired video work for Into the Groove, very cool indeed.

The drive back was a challenge. We were so tired, poor Chris had to do all the driving as he was the only one insured. It was a challenge to keep awake, but we made it!

The last night was our official "leaving party". We did the usual and went to The Friendly Society, which was very friendly indeed. Great laughs. We *did* go to Trash Palace afterwards, but …

iPhone in Argentina

The iPhone has finally gone on sale in "the rest of the world", including Argentina. Although it hasn't quite made it to South Africa or in fact any African country... that's "coming soon". In Argentina it's been sold by Claro and Movistar.

Getting to BA

When I first started planning my trip to BA I was surprised to discover how few options there are for getting there. Particularly if you want to go direct from Heathrow. As it is, we are going via Frankfurt on Lufty, but I had expected the LHR - EZE route to be better served. Now, I've just read that BA are adding extra flights to that route from November. They are the only airline that offer the "direct"route, although they all require a stop in Sao Paulo. They're also adding flights to their London - Rio route. Bless 'em.

Dog Baby

Just spotted this on BBC News Argentine dog saves abandoned baby. Apparently the baby was abandoned by its mother in the woods near her shanty town where it was found and "saved" by La China, a local dog! Now the dog's a local star!


I finished work today! Oi, it was a strange feeling. A kind of anti-climax in a way. I'm not really sure how it could have been different though. We had a drinks in the Bar last night and although it was fun, it wasn't the most fun I've ever had (many people couldn't make it) and then today (as with all Fridays) there was hardly anyone in the office so very quiet. Which was good as I was able to tidy up all my stuff and wrap up loose ends. Now I'm free for 9 months!

I'm going to be taking it easy this evening and brace myself for the hectic weekend ahead.

Sunday is the main "leaving event" so I need to focus on that... oh and Madonna in Cardiff this weekend.

As promised


Tax avoidance

Just spotted this piece on the Argentine Post about the Kirchners and their alleged tiny tax bill. It's fairly predictable... how can you preach wealth redistribution and still do everything you can to avoid paying tax yourself? It seems like their tax bill, mostly derived from private property ownership, is very small considering their personal fortune.

Redistribute the wealth as long as it's not mine. Admittedly I don't know enough of the background to the story but my temptation is to suspect it's true. Avoiding tax is what wealthy people do best, second only to rationalising doing it.

Blah blah, another rant. Frankly, the response to my last post of a similar nature was at times overwhelming. What I will say though is that (as was almost immediately clear once I started digging deeper), the Kirchners do seem quite capable of piling on the rhetoric about "social responsibility" but are perhaps not really living the dream.

It's a similar theme to my post a…

Books about Argentina

Originally uploaded by owenaj Browsing through Daunt’s Books on Marylebone High Street I came across two books. One I’d meant to get, ‘The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas’ by Paul Theroux and one I had not heard of, ‘Bad Times in Buenos Aires’ by Miranda France. I bought both. I’ve had a tentative dip into the latter and have to confess I’ve enjoyed the first couple of pages. The opening in particular:
I arrived in a city that seemed fascinated by the possibility of its own collapse. ‘We are in crisis!’ declared the headline on one of the first newspapers I picked up – and it was true that an unspecified threat of chaos pervaded the city centre. The grand European architecture that had given Buenos Aires its cherished nickname, ‘the Paris of the south’, was in places relaxing into a dilapidation from which is might never be roused. Some of its many splendid domes had crumbled into the shoulders of buildings that refused to support them any longer. One the…

Argentina extends equality

In a nationwide move, Argentina is to grant rights to pension of dead same sex partners who can prove they have lived together for 5 years. A very interesting article from CNN.

Maria Rachid, president of the Buenos Aires-based Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans, said she has been fighting for this change for a decade. She credited the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for creating the environment in which such a change could take place.

"Now we have a government that's more open, that's disposed to listening to our demands, and that's beginning to generate some changes," she said in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires.
But Hector Timerman, Argentina's ambassador to the United States, told CNN in Atlanta that it was not so much the influence of the current president as it is the changes that have occurred since Argentina emerged from the dictatorship years of 1976-1983.

"For a Latin American country, it's …

Gathering Momentum

It's not long now… one more week in London, a week in Glasgow and then we leave for BA! It's getting terribly exciting.This weekend has been hectic and I suspect it will only get worse. On Friday night I had to move from Jason's house in King's Cross to Fiona's in Wimpole Street. Not very far indeed. Chris couldn't help as he was having his work leaving do in Southwark. I struggled to get a cab and when I eventually did get one we were stuck in traffic. I was getting a wee but stressed as I had to get to Fiona's by a certain time to meet her flatmate and get the keys etc. Anyway, eventually I had to jump out of the cab and fight my way through the Tube (during rush our). Oi vey!After settling in at Fiona's I went out for a drink with an old friend from primary school. 'twas fun. Saturday night we went out with a couple of friends at a new restaurant in Clerkenwell, followed by a few drinks. Sunday was Soho Pride. Although I had reservations about g…

One more night at Jason's

Tomorrow we move on again, just like the Little Hobo (or whatever that dog was called).

Jason has been terribly kind in letting us stay, even sleeping in the spare room to give us the space to spread out - we have a lot of luggage! Staying so centrally has been a real treat. I even walked home from work the other day - according to google that's 5.3 miles! It took me an hour and a half and was fun.

On Friday we are off to Fiona's house in Wimpole Street, also very central.

Bye Bye Billboards

Have spotted this story on a couple of blogs recently: BuenosAires to Remove 40 Thousand Billboards to Fight Visual Pollution

It seems that the authorities in BA and the body representing advertisers have agreed to new legislation controlling noise pollutions and signage. It is similar to the law change in Sao Paulo that resulted in the widespread reduction in outdoors signs.

In BA, a total of 40,000 signs are to be removed.
The initiative to put in order the city's outdoor advertising began last May, when the government sent a law project to the Congress and approved a resolution to stop new authorizations for billboards and signs.According to Pagina 12 newspaper, the new law's main points are:
-It establishes three areas in the city: residential, commercial zone and the Republic Square. In the first area, some signs will be allowed, but only small ones to indicate a shop's activity; in the second area there will be drastic cuts to advertising; and the third will be the onl…

Economic / psychological patterns

Further to my earlier post, I've also been reading a bit about the recent reports that by the "Big Mac index" Buenos Aires is now "more expensive than the US". Of course the Big Mac index is a limited and western-centric measure that is probably best ignored.

However, reading through the responses I was struck by the post on Buenos Aires through my eyes. Specifically with reference to the psychological effect of being able to say a country is equivalent (or as expensive) as the developed world and how that is a familiar state for Argentina harking back to the days when the peso was pegged to the dollar. I remember growing up in South Africa in the 80s and 90s and how the nation's obsession with the exchange rate preceded the nation's obsession with crime.

Every day the Rand/Pound exchange rate was discussed, on the news, at school, at dinner parties - everywhere. In 1990 R4 bought you a pound, today you need R14. This gradual decrease caused concern for l…

Will I witness a power change?

Reading some of the blogs and coverage of recent developments in Argentina I'm beginning to wonder if the Kirchners will still be in power by the time I leave in early 2009. More and more commentaries seem to suggest their time in office is numbered. Of course there seems to be a degree of wishful thinking in some of the pieces written, but the author of this particular article seems convinces that a leadership change is inevitable and present a fairly compelling case.

Although he cites various reasons for his argument, the one that most interests me is the idea of the Kirchner's decreasing financial clout.

The Kirchners increased spending during the crisis in order to buy friends and influence, but a reduction in government revenues will soon leave them stranded. The government froze provincial transfers last week, as well as some public spending programs. It is only a matter of time until the labor unions turns their backs on the presidential duo. The loss of economic clout tr…

Well, would you take a look at this pretty lady

Originally uploaded by owenaj Out and about in Soho last night, were due to go to the Trannie Olympics in East London, but we didn't in the end. No worries, got to meet this darling at Escape in Soho. She was (and I hate to use the word) FIERCE. Fun night out with Richard, Fiona and CMC.

We did a minor trawl, Richard and I met at Escape at 19.30. It was empty, like totally empty. So we headed to The Village (ain't been there in a while)... when Fiona and CMC arrived (after watching The Dark Knight - oh I know) we went back to Escape, slightly busier... then on to The Friendly Society... we always end up there it seems.

THEN, back to Escape ... oi vey. Ended the evening with some delicious and HUGE sandwiches from Bar Italia... bus home. Fun night.

Memories of Mile End bus stop

Originally uploaded by owenaj We've left Mile End now and the warm comfortable bosom of Philip and Anne's hospitality. We are now in Bloomsbury in, ummm, Jason's bosom. He too is being a delight and very welcoming. It was fun staying with those two in the East End... It's also fun to be changing "home" every week, although I'm sure eventually the novelty is bound to wear thin. At the moment though, the fun of being somewhere new is still enough. Jason lives very centrally so it's been fun being able to walk most places, although foolishly we went to the East End this afternoon to visit the Carhartt shop near London Field. Not very far from where PJ and Anne live.

Here are some pics taken while waiting for the bus in Mile End.

Last night Richy was kind enough to have us over for dinner with his wife, Pauline. A delight in every way.

We were all due to attend the Trannie Olympics tonight but we decided against it... cold feet. It's raining an…

Last night with PJ and Anne

Tonight is our last night staying at PJ and Anne's house in Mile End. We are taking them out to Bistroteque to thank then for their kind hospitality. Haven't been there in a while. Should be fun.

London weather has been all over the place today... hot and humid, rainy, sunny... you name it, we've had it. Fascinating post, I know.


Just been reading about the reforms that Hugo Chavez has been implementing in Venezuela. They seem quite radical when applied all at once and have obviously attracted the full spectrum of comment. I'm certainly not familiar with Venezuelan politics or economics but it seems like an interesting development.

The new laws includes measures which would set up neighbourhood-based militias, move the country towards a socialist economy and increase state control over agriculture.

The reforms seem to be aimed at delivering two things: economic socialist reform and greater control to the centralised government. My only concern is around the apparent intensification of military control that Chavez seems to be implementing. Optimistically one hopes that he views it as a necessary step in delivering his 21c socialist vision and not a step towards state control of personal freedoms.

Business is obviously expressing concern at the reforms, but then they would.

Also spotted this today:Chavez offers …

The Official Story

Originally uploaded by owenaj This finally arrived today. I ordered it weeks ago. I'll try watch it this evening.

The synposis from IMDB:

Alicia Marnet de Ibañez is happily married to her husband Roberto. They have an adopted daughter named Gaby. Alicia is blissfully ignorant about what happened in the military coup until one of her history students asks her if she only believes what the history books say. She embarks on a mission to find if her daughter is the daughter of one of the women who disappeared during the coup. When her husband finds out, he does everything in his power to prevent her from finding the truth, but she's determined and nothing he does is going to stop her.

a weekend "homeless"

It's a strange feeling, not being able to "go home". We have finally moved out of the flat and are staying with friends, a fact I keep finding myself forgetting - albeit only for a moment. Thinking about when to go home. We're at PJs now and will be until Friday.

This weekend was quite busy, after the madness of the tail end of last week it's good to be able to do things just for fun again rather than chores and tasks. On Friday night Chris and I went out with PJ and Anne for a delicious curry in London's East End. It was fabulous... really hit the spot. Then on Saturday it was Brighton Pride. We went down in the morning with Fiona and watched some of the parade and wandered around the park for a while. Then headed down to the Pier to get some biltong (the best biltong sold in the UK, IMHO). The glamorous South African lady that usually works there was not there when we visited, which was a bit of a disappointment. The biltong was delicious though. I think I a…

Florencia De la V

Today I've been reading about Florencia De la V, a famous Argentine transsexual. Inspired by this post on Buenos Aires Daily I thought I'd try find out more.

There isn't a great deal written (at least not in Spanish) but I was able to find out (thanks wikipedia) a bit more. She's an actor and ex magazine editor. I'll need to find out more.

Moved out!

We moved out of our flat yesterday! Finally. It was quite a stressful evening/afternoon. It's always the last bits and pieces that take ages. The devil is truly in the detail.We left the flat looking lovely and I hope the new tenants are happy. I was a bit sad to leave because we've only been there since November and I do love living there. But, one needs to focus on the reason for the change.PJ and Anne were delightful in welcoming us into their home last night. We'll be there until Friday.