Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Tube Travelling 5

Down and outs of the underground

Everything hurts, face scarred, fingers torn and filthy, an empty coffee cup, held out as a container, begging the commuting workers and tourists for spare change. In a changing world less change available. Screen faces ignoring the plight of the stricken and hungry. He looks at the people he is throwing his life out to, nobody engages, nobody sees this person. A person. A soul. Lost but a soul. Lost in the depths of whatever despair is afflicting him. But he studies us. And we ignore him. 

Tube Travelling 4

There are an unusual number of observers on the tube today - 3 out the 12 where usually it is just me. Everyone else lost in their world of screen - games, music, downloads and the usual odd woman engaged in her morning makeup rituals. I briefly cross eyes with the other two, interest in their eyes, reflecting back my own. 

Tube Travelling 3

Years of travelling the same route, then forced to redirect on the whim of the underground bosses - directed walkways and thought-through one way systems that interfere with the age old desire for humans to find the path of least resistance and so in defiance of the rules we walk through no entry tunnels and earn a few more minutes grace on our journeys much to the bemusement of more rule-abiding tourists. 

Tube Travelling 2

An ashy old man in an olive parka sits on the Victoria line holding a plastic bottle of water, his hand is twitching making the bottle squeak in that creaky plastic bottle way, while he watches a large beige woman  transform herself in a morning routine that ought to be performed at home. No preservation of the mystery is left to the imagination - face sculpting with shades of foundation and powder, eye shadow, mascara, lash curlers, under chin shading. Fascinating to the man. Amazing to me that it takes so much makeup to look bare faced.

Tube travelling

The neurotic itchy people seem to pierce my eye more readily than the still calm people. Leg twitching, uncontrolled expressive faces, tics from too many drugs, inability to sit still, those with ants in their pants. Drawing myself to bring up my inner stillness, collecting myself in self awareness, holding each muscle and bone in deliberate poise, extending elegance to counter the messy, jerky, tic-y thing that I am watching. 

Friday, 24 May 2019

Distressed Voting

Never has it been such a difficult decision, faced with an arms-length of choices, it ended up being purely tactical, on the back of a number of alarmist futuristic prognonsis's from old novels (1984) and borrowed novels (kitchen library at work - Tracer by Rob Boffard), and populist media (first episode of Years and Years on BBC). We have been sleep walking into being a state with more CCTV than anywhere else in the world, like we have more dangerous streets than anywhere else or more untrustworthy citizens,  persuaded we need smart meters to watch our energy consumption, a police force using drones to spy on us, and we wonder why we have high anxiety.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019


There's a pigeon at the cake stall in Kensington High Street Station. One of those soot covered dark street pigeons that London has (alongside the healthier looking white doves, white dove crosses with street pigeons, wood pigeons and collared doves). Clearly a hankering after pink sponge cupcake crumbs this morning. Whether he arrived up the steps from the tube station platform or along the marble tiled atrium from the street passing those-that-can breakfasting at Bills is unclear but I smile at the infiltration of filth into the seeming perfection that is Kensington (they steam clean the pavements here, don't you know) - dog walkers with 6 hounds each walking in Kensington Palace in pristine workout kit, ladies lunching with their lapdogs in their handbags, botoxed and collagened into perfection, elderly couples in appropriate leisure wear (blazer and loud chinos, and a skirt suit). Its certainly far from Seven Sisters - insistent preachers, chewing gum street, beggars, winos, crush of inhabitants mingled with a drunk away crowd and a miserable home crowd (Tottenham supporters - I can never tell from their demeanour whether they have won or lost), overflowing rubbish bins, roots event flyers, fag ends.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Perceptions of Colour

Four youths waiting for a Victoria line train at Kings Cross are arguing about colours. What colour is this? They start asking for second opinions from other passengers. They light on absolutes as colours to check. Is this brown or yellow? The woman is wearing a fluffy mustard zip up jacket. Yellow! Nah brown. Nah it’s orange. I put in my tuppenies-worth - it’s mustard - otherwise known as dark yellow.  They all have a different opinion. One claims to have perfect vision when accused of his eyes not working right. It’s quite likely someone has some colour blindness. Next is a purple coat. They all went purple. They can’t agree on a pink vs purple shade of deep pink (possibly a bit magenta). 

I read a book recently called The Secret Lives of Colours - fantastic book - delving into the history of colours, individually named, some very similar to each other but historically known differently. Stories about their popularity, rise and fall. Fantastically interesting. I wish I had had it with me. For after this book there is no simple yellow, red, blue, green absolutes. There are only shades, nuances and possibilities. No one-dimensional argument can be won when each eye may perceive each hue differently. 

Thursday, 25 April 2019


She’s young, sitting legs crossed, arms up holding a mirror slightly over eye height colouring in her eyebrows, checking they are evenly full. Fluffs her fringe and is finished. She puts away the trappings of beauty, uncrossing her legs, thick thighs in black tights spread as they lean against the seat. Knee high black leather boots. Short denim skirt has ridden up into her lap and reveals the space between her legs - covered but still a revelation of knickers hiding under tights. The man next to me, is watching TV on his mobile. His eyes flick from the screen up her skirt and back. 

Standing while I sit. He has smiling eyes, silver streaked hair and light beard. Talking to his companion, they mirror one another. Design. I expect, of some sort. I have to hold back from reaching out. My hands have a desire to touch the textures of this man. Well worn-in tan leather satchel. Blue corduroy jacket. Thin wool sweater covering round belly. 

My hands are missing the pleasure of Zephaniah in the night - fur, foot pads, curled up body and body heat. The symbiotic pleasure of stroking a purring cat. 

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Zephaniah Trouble Thomas

Zephaniah had to be rehomed today. Two male personality clashes. He couldn’t learn to behave.  I’m bereft. Hope it subsides soon.

Thursday, 18 April 2019


5 mins for a circle line train. Station staff on the tannoy calling for an urgent attendant to a “human spillage on the edge of platform 3”. Image in my head of a pile of falling people over the edge. Then vomit. Vomit not poop I’m hoping.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Top Secrets from the Underground

I don’t know many real secrets of the underground having never worked for them but I do know that at Manor House they have installed a new escalator (the middle one of three) and when it is running (which isn’t often) if you ride it you can race the other people going up. And you know what? You are going to win, because that escalator is super fast - you will overtake about 20 stationary bods without walking yourself. And strangely nobody else seems to notice this joy!

Monday, 28 January 2019


We have been painting. Continuing on from creating an homage to the Panther's mother we have kept going. For me its about learning to mix the paint and creating a likeness.

Happy New Year (and its almost a twelfth over)

I've been missing. Guilty. Two readers have now mentioned it to me. Sometimes I'm feeling like I have nothing to say, or nothing that can be said, or something. And the phone version of blogger going missing isn't helping me.

I have had a cold for what seems like three months, it comes and goes and resurfaces when I'm just about feeling better, and a back ache that the physiotherapist decided was the pelvis bone rubbing, which was on the left hand side and over the weekend jumped to the right with all the excruciating initial pain it had.

We got a new kitten to keep our remaining cat company - I think they get on - they spend most of their time in the same space but older cat seems to get annoyed with younger cat's playful antics (she doesn't take kindly to be leapt on and straddled with a neck lock, every time she walks past him), and he can't seem to help himself. He is the Panther's cat really - came and sat on him when we went to choose and made the choosing easy. They have a special bromance going on which is a big surprise when the Panther used to be sort of allergic to cats. I keep threatening that its time to castrate him but can't quite bring myself to - scared of changing his personality - quite like the bravery and gusto that he attacks life with - climbing trees, carrying stuff around (last night it was incense sticks, paintbrushes and pens) and the fearlessness that found him mostly submerged in the bath this morning trying to keep his head up. He's a people cat which makes a mad change from our previous two - my sister still doesn't believe they existed since she hasn't seen them. And loves bubbles

We spent Christmas in Dundee, and new years in London revisiting friends we had not been in touch with for some time. And ate haggis for the first time ever (don't tell me what its made of, it just did taste delicious), nips and tatties to celebrate Burns night with a couple of Edinburgers. 

And on the back of that Sunday dinner were given a film tip to watch - French movie - Untouchable, which was excellent. Heart warming romp of a film, clash of cultures, based on a true story.

I'm currently wearing a pair of glasses with a missing arm which for a persistent glasses wearing is a bit unbalancing (I feel skew whiff in the worst possible way) so am off to see if the glasses shop will put a new screw in.

Saturday, 25 August 2018


Six years ago I got two cats from a litter of my friend’s aunt. To catch the mice we were having trouble eradicating (didn’t take them long to do the job). There was Philomena, and her brother Leopold. He was fluffy tabby and a little podgy when he was younger. Recently he suffered with anaemia, weight loss, overheating, dehydration and last week we had to have him put down. I feel guilty that we couldn’t keep him healthy. And we miss him.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Reading Murder Mysteries

So reading murder mysteries seems to make me notice the odder things in the daily commute - a woman who had her dress on inside out - labels on the outside, a woman with a beard, extra tall possible basketball player in lime green. Perhaps it’s time for some romantic fiction to change the mood.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Playing people tessellation on the tube

Crammed in

Pressed up against the last man in’s backpack. Two people force their way on behind me. Small woman who can’t stand still and fidgets in the curve of my back on the right. And a large older man who I feel trying to stifle chesty coughs through his barber jacket

At Paddington lots get off. Shuffle around. Sharing the pole with a pole hogging American who doesn’t seem to mind that her breast is pressed against my hand and her warm hand is cupping the top of mine. Plenty of room for everyone if someone isn’t leaning all round it

Tourists fuddle the smooth transition across hall at the top of the escalators at kings cross, standing still or heading cross trajectories.

At the Piccadilly line platform a crowd round the open door is an obstacle to getting on the remaining space.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Monkeys in Chapel Street Market

A long time ago, the '70s, we used to live in Myddleton Square and shop for veg and fruit in Chapel Street Market. There used to be a man who took pictures while you held a monkey. The monkey scared my sister but not me. The other man I have fond memories of is the one outside Madame Toussauds (same era) who had huge wavy balloons that were about four feet tall (my mother would never buy us one because she said the ones that weren't blown up were always stuck with pins - methinks she just didn't fancy having to blow it up). Oh and the  multi-colour hair men who lived in  a squat behind the sorting office on our way to nursery school ('73) pre-punk one with red hair, one with green, one blue, one yellow. And then there was the promise of a visit to the revolving restaurant in the Post Office tower when I was five (that would have been 1975) but they shut it before then when the IRA tried to blow it up. The 1970s - fond memories from simpler times.

Fast forward to 2018, we live in Tottenham, we were having a cup of tea with my neighbour and were talking about her photographs (one on display of her as a young mum in the 80s with that big permed 80's hair). She showed us a picture of her holding a monkey when she was a child. I have one almost exactly the same as that I said. And nipped back home to get a photograph album. Her photo reminded me of one of my own, in memory it felt like an almost exact replica. We talked about the likelihood of it being in Chapel Street - she thought yes. We compared pictures,

That is Christine on the left - she remembers vividly that she is wearing her red fur coat and red mittens. And me on the right - turquoise and white velour dungarees. Honestly we believe the monkey is the same - same outfit he is wearing, very similar face and tail. Massive coincidence.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Siberian Winter

Blanket of snow
Sunshine through snow
Blue sky
Sun melts snow on south facing
Icicles form off the shed roof
Footprints in snow
Wake up
Heating broken
Frozen pipes opened
Heating working
Snow storm blows in
Flakes swirling across the window
Yesterday’s indentations re-covered
Five wintering thrushes sitting in the tree
Grey sky

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Being the subject

So it was Friday night, after a long working week. We wanted to do something. Had a few options from calling around. The Wadadlian called by and invited himself along. Set up the back of the van - few cushions and a flight box of alcohol choices (we all drink different tipples). Wadadlian stuck in the back, we sang along to tunes at full pelt on the way. We do half decent renditions of Just a Giggilo, Bohemian Rhapsady and screaming Jay Hawkins’ I Put a Spell on You. Spilling out at the first venue we found live a Latin jazz band whipping up a crowd dancing in cramped conditions. Easy to forget yourself in these situations, feel the bump from the crowd and release the exuberance of after work joy. So dancing a serious salsa with the Wadadlian, easily swung to the rhythm and then taken back to the Panther for our own intense special less formal rhythm. The band came to a halt at midnight and we piled back into the van and headed back across north London to old neighbourhoods from the dimming past. Two floors. Pizza. Softish metal upstairs. We got beers. Hanged briefly and decided to check out the downstairs. Dangerously chipped stars lead to a gothic cellar bar the likes of which I hadn’t been to since Bails stopped dating goths. There was a lot of black dyed hair, velvet clothing and long eye ticks. Dark music. Pale faces, many shaved sides in the heads - men and women. My two companions leaned up the wall and watched in interest. The goth dance is a thing of steps and rules, you do it and it doesn’t matter if it matches the music in timing. It is done in a sort of square. And alone. Vampires, in intense introspection was the conclusion. Vaguely freaked out by my siren dance wafting and drawing them into a trance, we eventually left and went back upstairs. The music had taken a turn for the better - we knew the tunes and they were dancing songs. As it turned 2.30 Madness started their baggy trousers chant and two men besides us immediately aged themselves into our generation by jumping on the appropriate jig. And there we had it - the middle aged masquerading as youths, rolling out to go home.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Dark descends

And outside, the sky has darkened to the luminosity of night, beyond dusk, the air yellow like electric storms. Leaves are blowing off the trees in an upward trajectory to be scattered in neighbouring roads rather than at the base of the parent tree. The end of the world. An apocalypse. Is North Korea still there? This is Hurricane Ophelia's tentacles- having whipped across the Sahara and picked up sand and dust from Spain finally letting go.

Thursday, 5 October 2017


I've not been here much. Its been a difficult year. An annus horriblis. And it isn't over yet.

There have been fights about technology - falling in to the trap of using the phone for connection all the time, even at inappropriate times, followed by long stretches of no contact at all and the technology being switched off.

There are conspiracy's abounding about the bad affects on health of screens, wifi and spying. I'm reading too many espionage novels - borrowed from the window sill in the kitchen area of the office (people leave books there for others to borrow - a sort of library which reminds me of book-crossing) and find I get paranoid, but I can't bring myself to slog through the other type of fiction that abounds there - stories of women in old times.

There has been death. Lots of it. The Panther's mother the most potent. Our neighbour's mother also. One of our younger friend's young girlfriend. The mother of another friend of mine from my previous workplace. My friend Alex from school - from a virulent cancer. I'm guessing the middle age of life is where this starts to happen. I feel for my father, in his mid-80s with his massive collection of photos of dead friends and family

We passed a 3 year anniversary. The Panther and I. Love is still strong.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Evening commute

Got out of the tube and the air was that weird yellow - dark storm clouds one side and blue sky streaked with airplane streamers the other side.

Then a cyclist drove straight into the back of a bus because he was looking at his phone. Clonk. And the front wheel had been forced inwards on the frame and couldn't be pulled out. He dragged it off.

And then I followed a woman onto the bus who had long black hair with a back-combed fringe that stuck out and had just had her lips collogened - all puffed up and swollen.

And dark fell before I reached home.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Lunchtime City

It's pleasant drinking coffee and eating a sandwich in a large plate glass window of the cafe. The window increases the warmth of the sun's rays. I start to relax. Watching the rich at play and the working at much. Apart from the builders across the street who just work. Out of my subconscious I become aware of an urgent click. Every minute or so. Lots of fidgeting behind me. When I get up to leave I find behind me a man with strangely clear eyes playing chess on a large board, against himself, it seems, smacking the 'your turn' clicker swiftly between moves.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


What's with eyebrows these days. I'm all for thicker more prominent versions than plucked to within an inch of their life. But we are not drag queens - it would look more natural if we drew them on in a alignment with our natural brow. Or perhaps if we did it in a way that it wasn't clearly from a chiselled eyebrow pencil. It reminds me of the worst of male grooming when they shave round them to neaten it up too much and loose the rugged nature of the male face. Too much like a doll.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Birthday eve

The man opposite is feeling the heat - his pumped torso stretches against his sweater, clearly ripped through the cloth, and his head drops and jerks up constantly, his mouth hung slightly open. The tube is hot. And crowded. It's Friday 5 to 6. Everyone is pushy. More than usual. I'm trying to exert my personal space bubble and keep getting leaned on, shoved, bag prodded and pushed. Glad to be off work. Glad the evening sun is shining. Glad we got our temp liquor licence. Glad I ordered the kiln bits my dad bought me for my birthday. Glad I got the Panther's glasses ordered. Thrilled I'm being picked up by the Panther. And tomorrow is my birthday.

Monday, 8 May 2017


We decided to paint three pictures of the Panther's mother to show at her funeral. We began on the weekend.

The painting is about 3 foot across and comes from this photograph. Originally we were going to leave out the man but Panther felt it needed him in otherwise you couldn't read the large triangle at the bottom of the picture.

I find that I like painting. It's a totally different activity than I am used to undertaking.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Time Passing in a Vaccum

Sadly the Panther's mother died. A short stint at home after hospital, then a stay in St James' Hospice and a return to home. Life stops, but continues on, if you understand what I mean. Enveloped into a bubble of mourning and support. We went to church and sang, they prayed. There was a Nine Night - huge celebration of life with many people and lots of rum. Panther started a vigil which is to last 9 nights. Different groups of people keep coming down to his mother's house and sharing the outside fire, drinking and reminiscing. I finally went back to work after a long weekend, staying up until dawn and sleeping away the day to begin again the following evening.

Things have happened which passed us by - three people killed by stabbing across London, a man killed his daughter and himself live on Facebook, it snowed up north in April.

Outside life doesn't feel real and inside the bubble is a supportive seclusion. I'd forgotten how it was in the time after. I remember my father and sister watching lots of videos and never leaving the house, while I went to work and put on an appearance of normality while walking through treacle.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017


The spring sunshine is semi-warm - coat is done up but benefits from a warming glow on the back as I walk through Holland Park. I can feel the breeze about my ears, the back of my head and my neck. Chill but not freezing.

The panther's mother is seriously ill, at home with nothing more they can do for her. It brings back all sorts of grief from my mother's death. This is a woman who on first meeting gave me a hug to welcome me to her family. I told her I loved her son and she said she knows.

I woke up this morning feeling foreboding. I'm not sure how to support the Panther, and I'm not sure I can hide how I feel.

Thursday, 23 March 2017


He wears a crisp white shirt with a black bow tie, black suit and black rimmed hat. Woman in a red dress. Next to me a lady takes a selfie from her best angle - from above left. Very tall man leans on his umbrella.

I'm a bit fed up. Working while looking out the window at the sunshine and magnolia trees in full bloom.

And yesterday there was a terror attack on Westminster. It unfurled in real time by social media. People today shocked at the photographers who took pictures but failed to help. Trump Jr being an idiot about Mayor Khan. Ever since I remember London has had some form of threat - the Irish, then the anti-gay nail bomber, 7/7... we are used to it. We don't have as many incidents and deaths as Americans do from gun owners killing their fellow citizens. I wish we could get away from all the mud slinging. Whatever happened to leaders just expressing sympathy to other nations.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Space Oddity

A grey day that started before the alarm went off. He couldn't sleep from discomfort, got up, did stuff. She lay in bed wishing he would come back to her and ravage her with a morning passion. They died his hair red.

In a cafe a man plays chess against himself and a timer. A roll up board. He plays both black and white pieces. I'm not sure where the challenge is. Behind him a young beardy man with crutches eats chocolate cake. A man with half white face and drawn on black curling moustache hands out flyers to a hairdressers. She listens to her music loudly. Nothing gets through.

An albino child walks by, cap pulled low over his head. Skin so flaky he is scaled like some deep sea fish. Fish out of water.

Tom Waits is singing Gods away on business in his deep gravelly, freak show voice. She was on a different route to usual and didn't realise she missed her stop. Not enough people disembarked so she didn't notice. Waiting at a bus stop to correct the tragectory of travel tall chromed heels flick past flashing light about like knives thrown at the circus.

Boring life, who would want it.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Spring is nearing

And to counteract such blatant irritability some signs that spring is coming

Pet irritations of work: Chewing

Open plan office, long benches of workstations, people out of team sit together.
  • Crisps. Nothing offensive about crisps really, apart from the fact that each downward chew is a massive crunch, followed by a battery of follow-up crunches until said mouthful is done. And then the packet rattles and another mouthful begins.  I have had to avoid sitting next to some people.
  • Chewing gum. I've forgotten that people eat that stuff. In front of me this afternoon was one of those chewers who do it slightly mouth open and wet, like we used to do before we learned to do it silently with out mouths shut. I had to refrain myself from leaning round the screen and saying Quietly in my best librarian.
Other people's telephone calls
Shortly followed by other people's telephone ring tones
Then, sniffers
(Wobetide you have more than one horrible habit!)

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Hurricane Doris

Feels a bit like an oxymoron - all the power and threat of a hurricane but named after a little old English lady - perhaps she will slap us in the face with used teabags and drench us in cold tea. On the weather this morning the outside reporter at Blackpool Pleasure Beach was fighting to stay centre screen, with her navy kagool whipping round her and her soaked hair flicking her in the eye as the sea kept coming up and the sculptures bent over frighteningly. In Scotland 15 minutes of dumped snow. Stories of wild commutes, fighting umbrellas, falling buildings, and soaked children abound around the office. Can't really tell looking out - here in Kensington its sunny and the tops of the trees are gently swaying.

Update - 18:25

So while the wind is windy (reports from home that next door's tree fell on our car - no damage amazingly), there is no rain. However the electricity is stuffed - whilst on the tube making my way round the circle line to Kings Cross we were informed that Euston overland and Underground were shut, then trains were non stopping at Kings Cross from over-crowding, then our train was not stopping after Great Portland Street to Farringdon. Got out and decided to walk to Warren Street and catch the Victoria line. When I got there they were evacuating the station due to an incident. So crammed into a 73 bus, got stuck in a huge traffic jam, inching our way along Euston Road slower than walking...

Everybody Everywhere

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Books on the Underground

Standing proud on the platform's emergency communication device was this book with sticker - Books on the Underground. It looked brand new. I love this kind of book-crossing, give-away thing. Someone at work leaves thrillers on the windowsill by the kitchen which I read and return for someone else. I read the blurb on the back but it didn't tickle my fancy so I left it - hoping someone is reading it though!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Morning Ritual Interrupted

We were sitting at the bottom of the bed drinking coffee and eating cereal singing along to uplifting morning songs and watching the news with subtitles - usual weekday morning routine.

Something crept over my skin and in a fit of alarm I jumped up and screamed (not a whimper, a full-body gut-wrenching scream) and flung what had crept over me away. The Panther stamped on it and we all calmed down. What was it? He wanted to know. A really big black spider walked on me I said not quite confident and hovering in the doorway. We sat back down and carried on.

Moments later the Panther leapt up vigorously brushing something off his head. Its on my head! Where is it? I scarpered to the doorway. We kept looking about, in vain.

Later in the bath I was overcome with laughter. Panther said he didn't know what had happened when I screamed so, and he decided to act out stamping on something just to get me to calm down enough to tell him what it was. I laughed more. I had been convinced he had killed it (there was a wet patch and everything - not that I'm approving of killing spiders you understand). I have no idea how it got from my hand to his head - I must have flung it there, but he claimed it was large, black with yellow bits on it and looked like a tarantula. I'm doubtful. I know Italy has tarantulas now that are smaller than those horrible hairy things in the zoo but even so. Where would it come from? I'm very wary of going in the bedroom now because in both our sudden movements of alarm we just managed to dislodge it and not to capture it and remove it to other environs.

We discussed how neither of us likes to handle spiders, while not normally afraid I can catch one in a glass and put it outside but not with my bare hands.

I remember when we were little staying in a cottage with the family there was a huge house spider in the room I was sharing with my sister, we called for our father while watching it from the safety of the bed, when he arrived and saw it he leapt up there with us and we had to be rescued by our mother who was adept at grabbing them in hand and flinging them out.