Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for June, 2010

Things I like about London

June 30, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling 7 Comments →

Waking up to the regular thwack of tennis balls being hit in the tennis club next door.

People like to listen to recordings of whale sounds or rain in the Amazon or birdsong; let’s make one of tennis balls, it’s very restful. (When it gets too restful, throw in some grunting and shrieking. Your neighbors will think you’re watching porn again.)

Bonus activity: Trying to get a glimpse of the hot instructor across the fence. (Have not woken up early enough but my source guarantees it.)

After walking across miles of museums—and sales—throwing yourself onto a park bench to calm your screaming feet and realizing the bench has a history.

I’m not even a serious shopper, but everything is 70 off. (In Manila stores have the nerve to mark their stuff down 20 percent and call it a sale. That’s not a sale, that’s not even an employee’s discount.)

At dusk, which at this time of year is about 9 pm, walking across Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace, hearing someone singing Band on the Run and realizing that Paul McCartney is having a concert. It’s great to be in a city where there’s a McCartney concert on and you forgot because there are so many other things to absorb your attention.

London, 4.45pm

June 30, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling No Comments →

Spent the afternoon at the British Museum.

It’s vast. Spectacular. Monumental.

Visitors are encouraged to make a 4-pound donation but admission is free.

You can view the famed Elgin marbles and decide whether they should be returned to Greece.

Seems a little ungracious to mention the heat so we’ll stop right here.

Ciao, camariere di horror

June 29, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places, Traveling 8 Comments →

Rian’s lovely friends Shella, Janette, and Siobhan (She spells her name differently but I’ve always wanted to meet someone named Siobhan) took us to dinner at Westfield, a vast shopping mall. With airconditioning. Still not turned up to Manila levels, but it was a respite from the summer.

We ate at an Italian restaurant called Ciao Baby Cucina.

I was late because everything was on sale and I was looking for something for my sister. Apparently there was some animosity with the waiter even before I arrived. Everyone had ordered still water, and he tried to serve Shella sparkling water. When she pointed this out he said, “But you ordered this.” “No, I didn’t. Nobody ordered sparkling water.” Then I appeared and ordered sparkling water, reviving hostilities.

It’s a big place, but there weren’t many tables occupied. And still the waiter did not deign to take our order until we had waved him over several times. “May we order now?” I asked. “Of course, I am here,” he said snippily. Was he resentful about his career, his life, or the fact that he looked Italian but not the fabulous type? We gave our orders. Rian and I ordered a glass each of the house red.

The food arrived quickly, and it was alright but not the kind that turns you into a regular. Halfway through the meal I reminded Mr Petulant about our wine order. “Who did you order from?” he snapped. From Fabio Fognini, I wanted to say.

“We ordered from you,” I said.

“Oh. I do not remember.”

“Two glasses of the house red.”

He showed us the wine list. “Which one is the house red?” I asked.

“That one,” he said, pointing to the merlot corvina at the top of the list. I just wanted my wine, not a reenactment of Sideways. “The cheapest,” he added. I wonder if it is restaurant policy to pass judgment on the customers. Fortunately I am impervious to attempted insults by people who are unhappy with their lot.

Rian and I started giggling. “Then we’ll have the cheap wine.”

He brought us the glasses. “This is not bad for the cheapest wine,” we told him. He did not appreciate our humor and bustled off.

We decided to have dessert somewhere else. “You are not having dessert?” he said when we asked for the check.

No and I’m absolutely shattered, you’ll have to pick the pieces up off the floor, my life is over. The girls proceeded to complicate the petulant waiter’s life by paying him with cash and two debit cards.

We had excellent dessert and coffee at Balan’s, where the waiter was the opposite of petulant. “I’ll have the English breakfast (tea),” Rian said. “And how would you like your eggs?” the waiter replied.

The Voyage of Margiela

June 29, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Clothing, Places, Traveling 1 Comment →

In the morning I visited the scenes of battles, jousts, and executions: the Tower of London.

I was very proud of myself because I figured out how to get there by tube, using an alternate route. Although it still took an hour. The London underground is harder to figure out than the New York subways or the Paris metro: it has no logic that I can perceive.

Then again I have no sense of direction and it’s been hot. Of course Manila is hotter and much more humid, but every building in Manila is air-conditioned so you only fry when you’re outdoors. In London you fry outdoors and indoors, and the underground at rush hour is a sauna.

Prisoners’ shackles at the Tower.

The Tower of London is an essential stop for visitors, but I’m disappointed at the range of items in the gift shop. I was hoping to get mobiles with the heads of Henry VIII’s wives for my sister, or an anatomically-correct doll for demonstrating drawing-and-quartering, but all they had were plastic swords and helmets and a set of Tudor matryoshka dolls.

After that bracing dose of bloodthirsty history I headed to the Somerset House to view the Maison Martin Margiela ’20’ Exhibition and report back to Ricky. This time I took a taxi because dammit my feet hurt. I’ve been walking all day for five days and my feet have grown two sizes.

The exhibition celebrates Margiela’s unique aesthetic through installations, photography, video and film. I know very little about clothing design, but I like Margiela’s wit and the way he engages the whole schtick of fashion. To get to the exhibit area you follow the white Tabi boot prints.

The exhibition was curated by the Fashion Museum Province of Antwerp and Maison Martin Margiela. Curated by Kaat Debo, curator at MoMu and scenographer Bob Verhelst, the exhibition opened at MoMu Fashion Museum, Antwerp, then toured to Haus der Kunst, Munich. It was specially reconfigured for the Embankment Galleries by Kaat Debo and Claire Caterall, curator of the Somerset House. For more information, visit

Photography is not allowed at the exhibition, but there is a Margielous catalogue. I wish they had more merchandise than wallpaper, perfume, big snow globes and giant feather pens.

Maison Martin Margiela ’20’ runs from 3 June to 5 September 2010 at the Embankment Galleries, Somerset House. It is open daily, 1000 to 1800, and until 2000 on Thursdays. Tickets 5 pounds each. Special thanks to the staff of the Somerset House Trust and the Courtauld Institute.

What are they saying?

June 28, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 27 Comments →

Tsismez, photo by Protomartir, from the collection of Uro dela Cruz. The Protomartir exhibition is at Silverlens on Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati until July 3.

I’ve been away for eight days, which means enough stuff has happened in Manila to fill three novels. What’s going on? Anything great? Anything really ugly? The only news I get from home is related to my cats (They are perfect and antisocial, meaning they are exactly the same although I imagine they miss me).

Please update me on the rumors and actual occurrences of the past week in Manila, and when I get home I’ll send you a postcard.

* * * * *

Thank you for the updates. I see it’s been a slow news week. Also our definitions of ‘news’ seem to differ radically.

England in mourning

June 28, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Sports besides Tennis, Traveling 4 Comments →

There were giant screens in many public areas showing the England v Germany match live but I OD’d on vitamin D yesterday and wanted to see it indoors. Every single pub we went to was crammed. We ended up at Garden Gate in Hampstead and settled down with our Guinness to watch the agony live.

It was excruciating to watch, and I’m not even for England.

Kayo kasi umaasa pa, talo naman palagi. Huwag niyo nang ipapaalala na nanalo kayo noong 1966 dahil masyadong matagal na yon. Kung sa bagay, 1974 pa nanalo sa Miss Universe ang Pilipinas.

Afterwards, the silence descending like a gray blanket. Many people are not going to work on Monday.

At the newsstand a kid of 11 or 12 glances at the day’s papers and says, “I’m not even going to look at those tomorrow.”

* * * * *

Celebrity sighting of someone I didn’t recognize # 1. We’re on the train to Camden when my friend types a message on his phone and shows it to me. “The guy next to me was a child actor.” I look. No bells.

“He was on Eastenders.” Eastenders isn’t shown in the Philippines. “How’s his career going?” I ask. “Not as well as expected. I think his coming out may have something to do with it. But he is dating a member of Blue.”

Celebrity sighting of someone I didn’t recognize # 2. We’re walking along Regent’s Park Canal when a guy with big curly hair wearing a button-down shirt and shorts zips towards us on a bicycle. “Hey it’s that chef,” says Rian. “What chef?” “You know, the judge on Top Chef? Very mean? Foreign-sounding name?” I don’t watch TV but I read Heat by Bill Buford and remembered a name. “Marco Pierre White?” “Yes, him!” Hey Ige, I saw Marco Pierre White.