Saturday, April 14, 2007


We met after work last night on Fleet Street then grabbed a cab to Farringdon, where we perched on high plastic stools outside Kunz and Lang and chowed down on fried potatoes, sauerkraut and the nicest bratwursts I've ever eaten. Then we walked through the meat paradise of Smithfield Market and decided we'd come into town earlier than usual one day before work this week, have breakfast in Farringdon, and then wander through the market when it's in full, bloody action. Meat has been bought and sold at Smithfield for over 800 years. Public hangings and disembowlments used to happen there and crime in the area was rife. Today, some 120,000 tons of produce pass through the market each year.

Then we walked in the mild evening air to the Barbican to watch Aki Kaurismäki's droll and melancholic Lights In The Dusk set in Helsinki. The Helsinki in this film exists under a dark and gloomy fug of whisky fumes and cigarette smoke and is inhabited by people simply trying to get through the day. A shopping mall security guard moves through this bleak, Hopperesque cityscape vacant and alone. Ostracised even by his deadbeat colleagues, he gains a glimmer of hope when a glacial blonde persuades him to ask her out to the movies. He doesn't realise until it is too late that she is a gangster's moll, memorising the locations of the hidden cameras and the security code he carelessly punches into the mall's jewellery store whilst taking her on a tour.

It was strange walking back through the Barbican after the bleakness of the film. It was after 10.30 and the place was deserted. We were left alone to roam the dimly lit winding corridors and deadend spaces as we tried to find our way out.

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