Foreign Affairs

Wednesday, September 27, 2006, a new internet dating site, have undertaken a poll of Londoners' dating habits. Their results on nationalities are intriguing. The poll asked Londoners which nationalities they would date. London men and women are very much interested in British men and British women.

Men would choose to date: British (62%), Australian (37%), Scandinavian (34%), American (33%), Mediterranean (33%), Spanish (33%), Brazilian (30%), French (27%), German (23%) and Eastern European (21%).

Women would choose to date: British (61%), American (30%), Mediterranean (27%), Australian (25%), French (18%), Spanish (18%), Scandinavian (16%), Caribbean (16%), Brazilian (13%) and South African (10%).

My first reaction to this was the 'Mediterranean', 'Scandinavian', 'Eastern European' etc. were not actual nationalities. The definite choice of British as most popular is significant, I think, as it does not reflect how I see dating in London on the gay scene.

All around me, perhaps as a result of being a foreigner in London, I see relationships developing with many nationalities and outside the horizons of Britain. This may be in part due to the large numbers of gay men from foreign countries in London.

Research from a study of gay Londoners shows that a significant minority come from other European countries and the rest of the world, with 23.3% born outside the UK. These figures outnumber official census figures for Greater London which show 21.7% born outside the UK. 6.9% of those in the Census came from other European countries (11.4% in the gay research), only 0.06% from North America (3.6% in gay resarch), and only 0.06% from Australasia (3.2% in gay research).

My boyfriend is Austrian; many of my friends and his friends are in relationships with people from other countries. I find this mixing of nationalities incredible, and now it's not surprising to meet people from all around the world. A quick roll call shows relationships made up of people from:

Ireland & Austria
UK & New Zealand
UK & Australia
UK & Ireland
France & Denmark
Germany & South Africa
Sweden & Brazil
Greece & Basque Country
South Africa & Japan
UK & St Lucia
Ireland & Jamaica (& China & Poland)

While the last one might have been a more fleeting relationship, there certainly are more fluid boundaries in London.


Monday, September 25, 2006

I went to see Arigato, a new Japanese film on Saturday, which was part of a short festival organised by the Japanese Embassy.

The film tells the story of a volunteer fireman and his family after the Kobe earthquake of 1995. I've always thought it might be cool to experience an earthquake, but not after seeing this - it just looks bloody scary.

The film continues from its dramatic opening to tell the story of how he takes a leading role in rebuilding the city and then, improbably, becomes a pro-golfer. It's wonderfully warm and funny, which great convincing performances throughout.

I enjoyed it even more as a Japanese film that is not about samurai or manga, but rather a more realistic image. I loved seeing small aspects of Japanese culture - for instance, the formal ways in which "Arigato" (thank you) and "hai" (yes) were said through the film, all of which contribute even more to my love of Japan.

The film has not been released in Japan, and I don't know if it is getting a cinema release here in the UK, but if it is, go see.

Weekend + world

Friday, September 15, 2006

When you work everyday in an office, your world tends to revolve around the weekend.

This weekend I'm off to see the Scissor Sisters play a big charity concert in Trafalgar Square, which should be all manner of fun. My good friend Fiona is accompanying me.

Fiona recently drew a picture of the world for me. Thanks to her for that - here it is:

Have a good weekend, whatever you do!

Ireland by Deirdre, Greece by Daphne, Portugal by Mauro

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I watched a TV show last week called A Song for London, which followed musician Ben Roy around London in an attempt to find a person from every nation to sing him a song.

His attempts were mildly successful - he found people from about 70% of the world's countries, an astounding figure. He was seen speaking with embassies, cultural organisations, schools and even football teams in the hope of finding foreigners.

And while Roy attempted to complete his task in a week, I was reminded of my own project. I've collected a few more maps in the past few weeks.

When I was at home in Ireland at the end of August, I asked my good friend Deirdre, who's another geography and travelling fan, to draw Ireland.


Daphne, from Athens, has a blog which I read. She very kindly sent me her map of Greece.

Mauro, from Portugal, left me a comment about his new blog and project to collect 1 Million Love Messages. I like his idea - so in exchange for my message, I asked him for a map of Portugal. He very kindly agreed.


In addition to his map, Mauro also sent me a postcard of his city - doesn't it look fantastic?!
Portuguese city


Friday, September 08, 2006

I went to see walkwalkwalk, a performance by Gail Burton, Serena Korda and Clare Qualmann, at the Camden Arts Centre a few nights ago.

The artists take an urban walk as the core of their art. On this walk, they collect items from the strewn rubbish they find.

On entering the performance space, the three artists stood around a table, discussing each item in turn. The discussion was framed as an episode of Antiques Roadshow. I was initially not impressed by this; they seemed to present wonderfully everyday items in an overly pretentious manner.

I soon realised, however, that their script revealed how the items represented layers of social history. Examining a sachet of salt, they discussed salt's role in folk rituals - how carrying it warded off evil spirits. After experiencing bad luck, salt was thrown over the shoulder to hit the devil in the eye.

My favourite item was a gummy bear. The artists discussed the history of gummy bears, which originate in Germany in the 1920s. They noted how the gummy bear they had found was of a design first began in the 1960s.

The breadth of information and knowledge they presented was astounding. I loved how they tied everything they found to the location in which they were found: attempting to locate the origin of a wooden chip-shop fork by retracing the possible steps of its user, for instance.

The performance was fascinating to hear, revealing how our cities do not just encapsulate social history and georgraphies through their structures and architectures, but through everything, in the complete ephemera of any street, in any city, in any country.

Surf, roll, hop

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Two weeks ago, I went home to Ireland and, yet again, saw many changes there. I became focused, this time, on rural Ireland and the changes there. However, I haven't had a moment to myself since returning, so have not written anything about this as yet. More to come soon...


To keep the blog alive, I'm stealing an idea from troubled diva to follow blog links. So I follow my 6th link, then that blog's 6th link and so on until I become bored with it.


My 6th link is Catchy Sounds of Sweden, an mp3 blog about Swedish music. The most recent article extols a new song by PAY TV, an amazing Swedish electro-pop tongue-in-cheek act who I saw perform just over a year ago at Contact. This is all very approriate. PAY TV are amazing: great music mixed with witty, satirical lyrics. My favourite is from a song called Top Model with one of the singers breathlessly whispering:

Shut Up
Throw Up

CSoS's 6th link leads me to the site of Swedish band Bodies without Organs (again, amazing). CSoS's 7th link is to From Russia, with Pop, written by the very ace Greg who's leaving London on Thursday to live in Russia for a year. His latest post is about new Ukrainian pop band XS whose latest single seems to be about the hairstyle of Ukraine's former prime minister. Wow.

The next link leads me to Dirrrty Pop, written by Jessica. Jessica continually amazes me with her energy and talent. She writes numerous blogs with a wisdom which belies her youth. And she loves pop music, how more ace can she be. Jessica previews the 4 singles battling in the charts this week, with blogger protagonists fighting each corner. I'm with Jessica, picking the Scissor Sister's new song as my favourite. Can't wait for their new album too.

Onwards to Burning effigy of Candyland where Gareth is demanding that Lily Allen stop shouting her mouth off. I thoroughly agree. Although she'll always get kudos for rhyming "Tesco" with "al fresco" in LDN and the "no, go awawy, you're nawsty" line in "Knock 'em out".

Gareth's 6th link leads to the ace Indie Girl & Pop Boy. They've put together a mix CD of summer tunes, some of which look incredible.

On to a new-to-me blog Bright Lights // Neon Nites who have not updated all that recently. Still, they like Dannii Minogue, that can't be bad. Sadly no more links from here. Back to IG&PB's links, and The Bubble Death, another blog I've never seen before. I'm loving the mast-head image and that's all I'll say about here. On to large-hearted boy, an mp3 blog with an unusual image. It seems a bit rawk. I'm getting out of here.

Onwards to The BM Rant, another blog with an eye-catching header image. Lots of videos on here, all of which seem American or indie. The 6th link out of there leads to Ben Garvey, a 27 year old solo acoustic songwriter from the southern New Jersey / Philadelphia area. He's writing about Steve Irwin being killed by a stingray. 6th link here leads to James Cuartero, who plays guitar. I'm getting mildly bored now. On to Her Jazz, which has the word 'jazz' in the title and so my interest fades.

So. That was interesting, wasn't it?

Normal service will resume soon, I promise.