23 March 2005

Salon Afrique

A memorable time was had by me, Georgina and Mackay when we took sprogs to the South Bank. The main event was a visit to the Hayward's amazing Africa Remix show http://www.africaremix.org.uk/.
Very high on the wow factor, it's a collection of contemporary work from all over the continent. Almost every piece is beautiful and provocative and strange. Some of it made me gasp in awe.
A highlight was a handdrawn blueprint of a Nuclear Telephone from Hell, as designed by aliens. Trust me on this. It's uniquely frightening. Luckily, Spike was asleep, I'm not sure if Nora or Arthur got a look at it. Hope not.
(there I go again protecting the kids. who am I now, Esther Rantzen?)
Meanwhile the theme extends to the ballroom (or so B likes to call it) of the Festival Hall. It's kitted out with patterned and colourful wallhangings, rugs, etc to suggest a sort of African lounging area. A huge display of food and drink in garish and stylish packaging and bottles on enormous shelving. Cutting edge music videos on tvs dotted around. G and Mck loved it, and they've spent time in Namibia and Zimbabwe respectively, so had some expectations. The kids had a riot, but then they always do. A further pleasure was that Melissa Collier dropped in to see us, on her way to the Actors' Centre. Since we last worked together she's played the lead in Elshera (2004) , a film by Damian Wood that's done very well on the festival circuit, winning at the Palm Springs one, with M nominated for best actress.

On our way to town in the morning, Spike and I struggled into the buggy space on the 106 bus to Finsbury Park to catch the tube. I'd've walked but it was raining. Anyway, I got chatting with the lady who'd made room for us. She was dressed in the full monty Islamic dress, so I could only see her eyes. I learned her boy's name, Uzair. What's it mean? I asked. "Don't know!" she laughed. "It's the name of one of our prophets, anyway... " And mid-chat with me, she was calling out to an Asian guy at the back, and his family. "Did you bring the camera??" says she. "What's the point anyway, if we can't see your face!" he shoots back, kidding. She bursts out laughing, eyes flashing. To still my ill-disguised perplexity, she explained. "These are friends of ours from South Africa. They're here for ten days. I'm taking them to the London Eye. This is their first time ever on public transport. They're loving it. They can't believe how everybody mixes here. Things are bad over there. They're allowed to ride buses and so on with the white people, there's no law against it anymore, but it's just not what people do, they don't mix with each other."

This eve, B and I watched Manhattan for the first time in many years. We relished the one-liners, as ever, but now we're a bit more grown up it was more involving, more affecting.
I'd forgotten about the Wallace Shawn cameo. To think, he wrote The Designated Mourner, had this brilliant part as the genius who opened up Diane Keaton sexually, and played the godfather of all Ferengi, my favourite Star Trek aliens. What a guy.

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