Whilst the masses trudge off to be Eltoned (Mr John and his weave are appearing here later this month), Bron and I prefer our live music to be somewhat more intimate. Appearing at a tiny courtyard about a 15 minute walk away in the middle of Saturday afternoon was an Australian lady called Kikuyu, armed with a keyboard and sampler. A venue free to enter, the organisers were also good enough to hand out free cans of beer. And organise a free barbecue (the worried Aussie drummer from local band Pairs insisted we filled our boots due to the masses of meat-on-a-stick that kept appearing). I love this though – getting to speak to the artist after she’s been on stage (figuratively – see picture), being fed and watered (beered?) with maybe 20 other people. I don’t get the mass appeal of Elton John and his ilk – Shanghai is full of live music if people are prepared to look beyond what’s being advertised on the interactive screen in the back of taxis.*
Elsewhere over the weekend, Friday night meant a visit to a spicy Hunan restaurant followed by the Vue Bar in the South Bund to say goodbye to Jude as she departs for Canada in a couple of weeks. The Vue Bar has a great, well, view of the Bund from a different perspective to that with which we’re familiar, but seems to have a ban on seatbacks. Backache for all (especially Anny). Jude joined Bron and I in our favourite local cocktail bar (Closless) to end the night, always a great place to do so being, as it is, 2 minutes away from home. A youngster with a wise head on her young shoulders – Jude will do well back in Canada but will be missed by all (especially for having the world’s best poker face).
On Saturday night we met up with Jo and a few of her friends for a Greek meal in the Cool Docks area followed by a couple of drinks in the Glamour Bar on The Bund. I’m not sure the Glamour Bar is really my cup of tea, being distinctly unglamorous as I am, but good to see Jo and Bron fitting in nicely…
We’ve had the Nixons visiting us in Shanghai this week; Chris to solve the world’s (well, Argos.cn’s) future infrastructure challenges, Mrs Chris to fill as many suitcases as possible with gifts to take back to the UK. Great to see them both – and good to finally introduce Chris to the Shanghai Brewery on Tuesday night, complete with free horror cakes for Halloween (free for the ladies, but woefully neglected by the ladies, so I helped out).
And speaking of Halloween, Rachel dragged a few of us out on Wednesday night to a Halloween bash in the Mural bar. Good value for the ladies (£3 to get in and free drinks all night long), not so good for the blokes (£5 to get in including one free drink only). Plenty of weird outfits, and free horns for the ladies. A curmudgeonly old git; no dressing up for me.
Akin to a scene from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil**, a few workmen came over on Wednesday to switch our heating on. In the roof terrace is a strange cubbyhole consisting of pipes, knobs, extension cables, hosepipes and several more pipes. Activating the heating system would therefore seem to consist of attaching hosepipes to pipes, moving a few dials, draining a little water onto the floor and into other pipes, and repeating the process several times until a consensus of nods is reached. It is either on or off – no thermostats here. But we’re apparently fortunate to have heating at all, in which case manually fiddling with radiators when we need a little heat doesn’t feel like too much of a chore.
A workman is here at the moment (Sunday morning) to takeaway the doorbell to fix it. I’m not sure how we’ll know when he’s bringing it back.
Later today it’s back to the Cool Docks area for an Indian lunch (buffet hopefully) with Chong. So that should do us nicely for the rest of the day… Sundays are definitely becoming single-meal days…
And not end on a downer, but Autumn can be bloody miserable here. The decaying, dying leaves seem to beckon down layers of pollution onto Shanghai. To look out of the window in the daytime is to be confronted by a wall of grey; the dirt of the city normally obscured by sunlight becomes highlighted in the murk. Maybe we should only go out at night.
*Yes, get me.
**This only a slight exaggeration, honest.