hello & welcome back to ✨WHAT I SAW LAST WEEK!✨ – my culture diary here on twp dot com where i write about culture all the time 24/7/365 bby!!!

last week was a weird goopy one, i think i thought the weather would be nicer? it’s funny how shit weather j sits on you, like a weight (or it does for me at least). i always think about how nice it must be to live somewhere a bit sunny and hot, n how i’d probably never wana do anything except lie in the sun like a cat, maybe i’d read more books? bc i’d be lying in the sun so would need something to do w my brain n my hands. i wonder if professional reader is a job, bc i would love to do that as a 9-5. but only for books i would want to read anyway, n not to check for like, typos (i am actually not very good at catching typos, can u tell) anyway – spent last week dreaming of sunnier weather n summer, writing, clocking in and sinking hours into my laptop writing rather than reading. anyway anyway, here is wot i saw!

the muslim cowboy, by bruce omar yates

got my hands on a cheeky advance copy of the muslim cowboy, and was honestly mostly interested in it because i am a muslim that LOVES cowboys – great premise, appeals to my specific interests. it’s a ‘middle eastern western’, the blurb: ‘in the aftermath of the Iraq war, an odd Iraqi man entranced by Americana and old Western movies dresses in double denim and roams a lawless landscape in search of his own Western story. Amidst the disorder he meets a young girl, and together they set out across the tank strewn desert on his trusty camel to find safety.’

the story is told through the mechanism of different famous ~western~ films, and that kind of guides the plot – in a knowing way, the protagonist (never named, other than as The American) loves cowboy films and references them when wondering what to do next, how to respond, how to process things that have happened or are happening. the cinematic as a format, the hollywood plotline as an arc, but reconditioned as a meta container for a story to take place. there are lots of little stories within the big story and the little stories are like a motor propelling you from one bit to the next. it’s interesting and clever, handled in a way that feels rewarding once you get into it.

it did take me a while to get into it, when i first cracked it open i felt this initial twinge of confusion like ? where is this going to go and how long can the writer sustain this cowboy tone of mysterious stranger wanders the desert? i had in my mind the fear of experiencing cormac mccarthy’s blood meridian and the way the plot and the writing seemed to stretch out into an endless and bleak expanse where each chapter was virtually indistinguishable to me. like i had to stop reading blood meridian at some point because i felt like every time i cracked it open on the tube i was exeriencing a kind of literary groundhog day. i had the fear of that in the back of my mind, and it made me clench – but that was an unfair preconception of what the muslim cowboy would be, and it totally wasn’t that – it was actually a bit action-packed? it was a bit emotional too, it made me well up. i really enjoyed it and i have been lending it out, forcing other people around me to read it too so i have someone to talk about it with!

holly hendry sculpture above temple station

there’s something called the Artist’s Garden on the roof of temple station – did you all know this was here??? i didn’t! so it was actually a lovely little secret surprise to stumble on bc i’m always nipping round here, like all the time and have never noticed it! atm they’ve got a site specific commission, a sculpture by holly hendry called slackwater nd it’s this enormous sprawling pipe lattice arrangement.

it’s interesting, i get the feeling or the hint that the artist’s garden is very sculpture focused – obvs they have to be, they’re outdoors, in public, you can’t really do a good job of hanging paintings in that ~environment~. and when it comes to thinking about sculpture, i always find myself thinking about an art skl lecture we had where the tutor went ‘all sculpture is phallic’ n then proceeded to back that up with examples. just the vague idea of upright form, erect, puncturing public space – it doesn’t have to be a universal truth, it’s just a compelling hot take, like an interesting position. bc this sculpture by holly hendry imo actually rly resists and inverts that upright phallic puncture of public space. idk if the anti-phallic is something she bears in mind (lmao why would she) but if anything it sprawls out through public space in this attempt to weave a form together that lies low against the floor. it’s a really interesting way to sculpturally use public space, create a solid mass, and i liked the way it redirected my focus and eyeline back down, at the ground or body level rather than trying to compete with all the tall buildings and their upright phallic puncturing of public space. it felt fun, funny, a gentle redirection.

i do wonder about the actual weaving, the movement that’s meant to imply. there’s something about the actual pipes that just feels like something inherently static but in drawing a line there’s also the implication of movement, even if it’s moving to get tangled back in? like, it’s called SLACKWATER and it’s within eyeball distance of the thames. another part of me was curious about how this sculpture would feel and change if the pipes were hollow and we’d been able to crawl inside them. i mean, it’s outside so it’d probably be grim and full of bugs and puddles. it’d also be a health and safety risk, are u crazy! but banging my flat hand against the pipe like it was a drum felt really hollow, i found myself wishing for access beyond the limit of the thing. omg – i wanted to penetrate it??? omg freudian, omg terfy. that’s kind of not what i mean. i just mean i think a human hamster run would be fun and also mini-log-flume. maybe i wanted something more kinetic and involved where i was moving too. idk, that’s wishful thinking centred on a completely different artwork, which makes it totally not the point. it was just an interesting sculpture that made me think about space and my experience of it!!! which, i guess that IS the point!

st pauls!!! did u know u can climb it!!!

so many new lessons, bits of new information. i didn’t think you could still climb st pauls but apparently u can! it was my sweet bf’s sweet birthday and this was one of his birthday wishes!!! so as his birthday wish facilitator, i took him up st paul’s bc i am a top gf :)

can u believe it i have been alive and living in london for nearly 30 years and i have never been inside st paul’s. i actually cannot believe that. never been up the tower of london either, or seen the crown jewels. never been outside buckingham palace except when protests go past. but ticked this one off my new big london tourist list at least. i love being in a city n getting a view from high up, love seeing the sights from a height. i was honestly very bizarrely surprised to see a the inside of st pauls looking the way it did, it felt like it couldn’t be in london, all weird and gorgeous like that. but there is was! there it’s been since the fire! how odd!

we went scurrying up the tower to the whispering gallery where– you actually can hear the whispers all across the room if you direct your voice straight along the wall. magic! then up another couple thousand million steps, there’s a lil peephole!!! right at the top under the dome, so you can look down on the cathedral floor through a pane of glass. me and my sweet bf were both mesmerised, and the italian tourists behind us were soooo amazed they literally said mamma mia! !! cute, n it made me wonder like, woah – could you turn st paul’s cathedral into a massive pinhole camera? or like a camera obscura where all that’s projected down is an image of the sky above you as the clouds shift past. is that possible?

n the view was nice – it was a grey day but it’s always nice to be that high up and with your face all up in the clouds. i kept pointing our landmarks to my bf like he didn’t actually live in london too lmaoo but it’s funny how many skyscrapers have secretly very silly names. the cheesegrater, walkie talkie, the gherkin, so whimsical and ridiculous.

and down in the crypt i think a whole bunch of artists are buried in there, and in the actual church itself, there are a whole bunch of artworks – i never knew this!!! how cool. i didn’t get a good picture but there’s a henry moore sculpture of madonna and child and a copy of a painting of jesus by william holman hunt.. there’s also a famous sculpture/monument to john donne – an elizabethan poet who wrote this lowkey kinda sexy poem. my favourite bit was just by where christopher wren’s buried – a commemoration to the craftsmen who actually physically built st pauls, the masons ‘the men who made shapely the stones’. i think that is such a beautiful way of putting it. i wonder who they all were.

there are two massive tombs for like, wellington and nelson – two figures from britain’s military that are literally unidentified soup in my mind – i think they might’ve fought napoleon?? idk! but they’re like massive sarcophagus spaceships down in the crypt. and little stones for william blake and jmw turner (there’s actually a massive sculpture of turner up in the nave). and a bunch of pre raphaelites – but apparently turner is actually buried there?! i never knew that!!!

i think that’s so cool – much cooler than the endless monuments and plaques honoring members of the british empire’s armed forces and men from the east india company, so many endless monuments to soldiers who’d been governors of random colonies they had no business being the heads of. that empire stuff was kind of endless, made me feel a bit sick. st pauls has done one of those reinterpretation jobbies, but i cna’t help bt feel like that barely touches the sides. with this more than any other place or example i feel like – wow they actually can’t get rid of those, like they HAVE to stay there. destruction feels like a kind of erasure in that case, so maybe reinterpretation is the only current option available? either way – it’d be really interesting if there was a kind of imperial history tour that took you around all the problematic lads and addressed things beyond just a block of text by some poor writer who put all the history into a big long wall mounted essay no one’s ever going to read. maybe a publication – lmao? idk. it j stood out to me as the kind of thing where there’s no good answer or solution. complicated and sticky. that’s not to say the history is this dense opaque thing that no one oculd parse – i learned loads. my bf didn’t know there was a sikh empire that was the last seat in india to fall to the british – it took every muscle in my body to not bang on about how when the british landed in bengal they cut the thumbs off all the weavers so they could have a trade monopoly. dark.


was back on the wheel this week in ceramics class !!! it’s so much fun! i finally got something that actually looks like a pot! recognisable, real, properly kinda. it’s still not great, but i am really enjoying learning how to do something useful w my hands. the movements feel counter intuitive bc they use your entire hand, rather than just your fingers. it makes me laugh that i’m having to use something beyond my fingers bc i didn’t actually realise! how finger based most of my day to day hand activity is!

i watched baby reindeer

fucking heeeelll. it was quite a story. this really airtight thing, a rip through narrative in this very slick and controlled way. i am so interested in what this might’ve looked like as a play, i’m kinda sad i never caught it. i’m also so interested in the ways this might’ve changed when it made the transition over into netflix-ified limited series. the way tv itemises and also lengthens out a story. it’s so interesting what that can do to the shape of a story. fractal theory etc etc, maybe it’s time for me to re-read that john yorke book. i can’t lie, i felt very peer pressured into watching it by literally everyone else in the entire world and how eveyrone couldn’t stop banging on about it. like even my tiktok algorithm was showing me things like lil spoilers – ican’t deal w that.

anyway !!! that was my week – how was urs? wot did u get up to? is there anything fun and interesting u got up to?? lmk, n see u next time, bYEeeeeeee xxx