Monday, 18 July 2016

Snot nose

Cute children clinging to the pole in the centre of the carriage enjoying the roller-coaster-ish effect of the train lurching around on the track at high speed. The girl had a trail of green snot hanging out of each nostril. For the life of me I couldn't understand how her mother didn't notice and then I couldn't look anymore from revulsion. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Working in Posh Neighbourhoods

OMG they steam clean the pavements in Kensington. Who knew? It takes two men and a double ended machine. Extraordinary.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Ultimate Oxymoron

Camouflage outfit - top and pants, in the colour way of yellow and neon pink - the question in the office was - where are you going to hide in that? Look at me! Don't look at me! Hide in the 1970s maybe. Or against some graffiti... 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Escalator

It's been a while since I had a good escalator story. But I noticed it a couple of weeks ago and checked it today. At Manor House tube station there are two old escalators flanking a middle one that has been recently renovated. At rush hour in the evening two go up (the left hand and the middle one). Previously I was standing on the left one watching people standing in the middle overtake me. The middle one must be faster. So today, and I don't know why this pleases me so much, but in the race of standing passengers on moving staircases, I chose the middle escalator and overtook 5 people spaced with two steps between each. A significant win and worth the choice, I think you'll agree. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Fifedom of Londonium

So, now Scotland feels it is democratically unfair to make them leave the EU and so will demand another vote on leaving the United Kingdom. Couldn't we do that too - London (led by its Mayor) could also leave the UK and remain in the EU. What do we think?

Guess what? There's a petition for just that!

Because I'm not the only one who thought it. 

Rich neighbourhoods

I don't know why I'm finding it hard working in a rich neighbourhood but I am. 

This isn't just the City - fancy offices full of men and women in suits - this is a place where the wealthy live and relax. I walk around at lunch time looking for local London colour and vibrancy. I find myself annoyed with the stay-at-home mums with their perfect legs and highlights and blond children. The clean and perfect dogs. The fact that workmen on breaks sit neatly on benches in the park not a peep out of them - covered in plaster dust and being sort of outside the regular residents. I watch a cleaner sweep leaves off the front path of a mansion house wearing a bib apron, the lady of the house flittering about the magnificent front hall. The playboy Arabs letching every white girl they pass. Ladies who lunch, but do nothing else. 

It's a strange feeling working in the office and then spilling out into an adult playground. Feels sort of purposeless. 

!!!

A vote for?? We don't know. Not for strength in unity. All the Brexitiers jubilant all over the TV. Everyone on both sides saying the people have spoken. It was close. 52% vs 48%. Poke in the eye (not quite a kick in the stomach) for the caring liberalism that built the country. London (and Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Cardiff, and Scotland and Northern Iteland) vs the rest of England. How come those with the least experience of living multicultural lives have the sway? 

It feels a lot less secure this morning. I fear for the decisions that were made on the back of the last world war (welfare system, NHS, joined and stable Europe) - have we grown disillusioned with stability? 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Bus journey

It's wet this evening. Half the tube system was broken this morning so I hopped on a bus from - a 27 bus. It took me up Kensington Church Street towards Notting Hill Gate. Past antique shops, wacky clothing boutiques and children's clothing shops. Yummy mummy Notting Hill rather than Rasta Notting Hill. Then suddenly we are in Queensway, Bayswater and Paddington. It's easy to forget how close these places are to each other.

From Paddington we snake around through Edgware until we pass Marylebone Station and join the traffic going easy on Marylebone Road.

We creep past Baker Street and Madam Tussauds. I looked for him but he wasn't there - in the 70s there was always a man selling huge 4 foot long wiggly balloons to the crowd queuing to get in. I always wanted one in the way pre-teens want things, asking if we could get one every time we passed by. Mum always refused with the excuse that he was a crook and all the ones that weren't blown up would have holes in. It was one of those helpful white lies parents use on their gullible young children - my friend Kate managed to persuade her kids that the ice cream van played its jolly tune when he had run out of ice cream! Only later did I think perhaps it was more about not wanting to find the puff to blow the damn thing up than any truth in the likelihood of everyone having a hole in it. 

Then we passed the loveliness of Regency Regent's Park. Another childhood fantasy that I would live my adult life in one of those fancy cream houses, front doorway draped in columns and friends with whom I'd run along the York stone pavements to the tune of 'old-fashioned millionaire' (there was an advert in TV at the time that played out this desired lifestyle). 

My sister, at the time, predicted that knowing me by the time I was 18 I'd have a boyfriend with an open-air car (y'know, soft top). I was 10 when she predicted this. I'm still waiting for the boyfriend with the open air car to show up (I was 46 last month). 

And then Hampstead Road, turning at the corner of Warren Street, once the windiest place in London when the landscaping didn't exist - only the huge buildings causing their very own wind tunnel which meant at times you had to cling to lampposts while waiting for the lights to change for fear of being blown away. And finally Camden Town where I alighted so that I could continue on a trajectory that at least was heading in the right direction. 




EU Referedum

So the day of reckoning is upon us. Hopefully you have voted and based it on  serious well-researched information and not exclusively media-hyped sensationalism. If not, and you are still humming and ha-ing, get yourself down to the polling station and vote according to your belly-button status. Are you an in-ny or an out-y? 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Minor irritations

The absolute worst part of working in open plan offices is listening to other people crunching on crisps or carrots. Teeth gnashing crunchy food sets me on edge. Not sure why...

Monday, 20 June 2016

Bigger things

There are more important things to say than the anecdotes that I have been putting up. I just am not sure how I am supposed to say them. 

SH and I went to Parliament Square last Friday to pay respects to Jo Cox killed senselessly in the line of duty. An energetic dedicated MP of the mould that we would prefer all our MPs to be (of and for the people they serve rather than the clever-britches career politicians we have become accustomed to recently). The reaction has seemed very genuine - very emotional interview by Neil Kinnock on the news that was very moving. And the desire expressed by some to mix up politically on the benches for today's recall of parliament, following the suspension of campaigning for the referendum (a welcome quiet in the bleating of one side against the other). 

I don't understand why we are having a referendum - called by a Prime Minister who is now in the side of remain (why would you call it if you didn't want to leave?) - I don't think the world is a better place for holding ourselves separate. People are hankering after the times when Britain was Great (great from conquering and pillaging the countries of the empire - so not standing alone then either). I believe we should be joining together more, not splitting up. 

Most of the people I know are descendants of immigrants from one time or other. This debate has become one all about immigration - people from places with an immigrant population of less than 2% being most concerned about migration - which seems ludicrous to me - media-hyped-up fear. Those people here from other places doing jobs that British people prefer not to do for wages they won't work for. Unfounded fear and xenophobia. This country is built on the shoulders of immigrants. It's what I love about living in London - that it's a proper melting pot of people, and flavours, from all over the world where we can express our individuality in whatever way we choose (within reason). 

So I will be voting to remain IN Europe. I think there is greater strength in a union than there can be outside of it. 


Wolfgang Tillmans (photographer) statement about why he got involved in the EU Campaign http://tillmans.co.uk/

Big n Juicy on the referendum.

Hello Israel

And I don't know how come or what caused it but there has been an ENORMOUS spike in visits from Israel this last week - 11,700 visits - the first time Israel has ever made it onto the top 10 audience countries. So hello to you all! 

Wet feet

It was pouring. Have you got your umbrella he asked as they got ready to leave. I was thinking it's only two short walks either end... Looking out it was actually pouring properly and not just drizzling. She still went out in sandals. Dropped at the station. Kiss goodbye. Honked at undeservedly by irritated taxi driver. Got to the other end. Umbrella up. Still had dry feet until the last 20 metres entering the street on which she worked which slopes at a steepish downhill gradient which had turned into a river with no possible dry routes. Wet feet. It could have been fine. She just so wasn't into putting on tights and closed toes shoes in the middle of June...

Friday, 17 June 2016

Nudity

So we used to look down on people's flats from our office in Peckham and see into bedrooms. I have written about it before. Now in this office the view has been on to more obscure apartment windows. Until I noticed the long leggy limbs of a blond arranging herself in the window. Seemingly naked. After a while you could see a strip of nude-coloured skirt fabric. So not a life model. Wasn't even sure it was a girl - the body being impossibly tall and the hair really fake. But a later pose was face to the window and clearly she was a she. Skinny. In a flesh-tone underwear shoot.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Second week

More than one person has greeted me and said jokily, "that's good you've come back for a second week". It piques my old interest about how come they haven't been able to keep a person in my position for terribly long. 

On the tube a lot more. More due to, fewer changes, quicker journey. I get a seat and read. Today a man is standing over me talking to his mate about the Victoria  Line, video shoots, styling the shoot and getting coffee before their meeting. He is a neurotic. Even standing he can't be still and shakes his leg persistently so that his whole self is in a perpetual jiggle, his change tinking hurriedly in his track suit bottom pocket. He sits down at Warren Street until the female voice announces the next station will be Oxford Circus, and when we arrive they get off. Dragging after themselves a smell of sort of milk and biscuits. 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Week one

Been exhausted by the newness of it all. Similar process, protocols, types of people but somehow the unfamiliar and understanding dynamics and relationships and behaviours really takes it out of you. It's the change of pace that is proving most difficult to turn down. I hadn't realised how fast my working life was going before. Still I hope I'm making a good enough impression...

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Its different here

Gone are the tiny import/export businesses, cacophony of hair and nail salons and mixture of whole food cafes and greasy spoons. In its place there are extremely expensive apartment blocks, houses in tasteful shades of cream or white with bay tree sentries and red geraniums. Mercedes, Porsche and Ferrari are parked along the street. Boutiques for chandeliers, women's lounge ware and antiques. The high street is full of medium and high end chains, far removed from the Primark and Peacocks of Peckham. Little Lagos probably continues with its hanging about, smoking, drinking lariness while I am astounded by the mass of au pairs  dragging little boys in boaters and short trousers along the road, weaving between the ladies who lunch and Botox to a point where their swollen lips and stuck fast masks give them away. A joy ride for an elderly Arab in an antique white Fiat cinquecento, whizzing down the high street with his fat cigar hanging out the window. We are not in Southwark anymore.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

New job

So I started yesterday. Most lovely is the shortened journey - a mere 50 minutes as opposed to the old hour and a half. But it's different in the West End - the tube is full of tourists and shop workers (as opposed to the bankers and business workers of the northern line) and I keep finding I am walking faster than the crowd - looking at their feet and wondering how, when wearing trainers, can the pace be so slow. I am able, in my clicky heeled sandals, to overtake an entire corridor of people on the wrong side of the staircase up to the westbound circle line at Victoria and I was never the fastest walker on the Noerthern Line. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Last day of work

It's the last working day of an 8 week notice period that has been a bit of a marathon. I sit here in the window of a cafe watching pink blossom flurry in circles on the street in the sunshine on my last Peckham lunch hour. 

We were inspected by Ofsted this week. In my last week. It felt like all the bad karma I have developed in life flopped down on my lap - informed on Friday 13 May (my birthday). It worked out OK in the end (results are confidential) but was a very intense end to my 12 year tenure. 

But now with the marathon almost over the details of Peckham are playing over in my mind. The mass of trendy cafes that have sprung up since the overground came from shoreditch to here - there was only one over priced homemade cake cafe here when I started. Feeding the arty Hoxtonites who are moving in. Clashing culturally with little Lagos and their cloth, hair, nails, gracious and beneficial back room churches and live snails. It's definitely colourful. And I've enjoyed that aspect. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Hearing the blues

Gradually become aware of blues music, heavy twangy electric guitar and black male voice drifting up from the street. Remember the last time I was attracted to this music enough for it to break through the concentration on the screen - it was summer,  I looked out and it was emanating from a  little two-door black hard top MG parked outside our building. I think of this car and listen to the music. I want to be in a dark bar, drinking thick whiskey, tapping my head to the strains of the music, it transports me from my office. I look out the window. There is the little black MG. An arm reaches out of the car, slams the drivers door shut, starts the engine with a roar and drives off. The silence in the room is deafening. The clock ticks. I make a coffee.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Return to Thatcher's Britain

My overwhelming memories of the endless Thatcher years were of striking teachers, striking miners, war mongering in far off places and abject poverty for a growing underclass living in cardboard cities that spread out from the centre across the city. 

I witness begging on my tube journey home three out of five journeys - heart wrenching stories from a variety of people needing hostels and food. In the morning a different kind of begging - sellers of packs of tissues to feed themselves and their children. Equally heart wrenching. A recent trip to see the London Lumiere on some of the coldest nights of the year - homelessness like the 80s in doorways along the strand and all over the West End. We came across a soup kitchen with a queue of people going round the corner being given food just off the strand. Regular beggers at all the stations I use, even in the outer areas. 

It didn't take long for the carelessness of goriest to take hold again. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Locked

Unusually a gridlock at the end of my street - cars from both side roads bullying their way into traffic on opposite sides of the road, lines of cars on the through road stuck behind buses trying to pass one another. 

White van drives up to the stuck traffic on my road. His frustration overflows. He honks loudly for a long time then smacks his steering wheel.
"You fucking imbeciles - couldn't fucking wait, had to push through and NOW look at you - gridlocked. Absolute. Fucking. Assholes."

In the middle of the gridlock school children spill out of cars trapped at 8.45 to finish their journies on foot (I do always wonder why they aren't walking anyway - we had to and were probably fitter for it). A tiny space is inched as the traffic lights onto the main road far down the street go red once more and white van joins the queue towards it. Walking I reach the main road far in advance of the cars in the gridlock. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Lumiere London 2016












Thursday, 14 January 2016

Trafalgar Square

Coldest night of the year. "Meet me in Trafalgar Square at 6.30. Dress warmly."
He panics as the phone loses power. "Go somewhere wait for me. Tell me where you are. Maybe order something." She looks around. Decides.
"Bottom of Trafalgar Square. 4 lions around Nelson column. South west facing lion - looks at cafe Nero - I'm in there. It's the road that goes towards Piccadilly."
She drinks hot chocolate. Thick and warm. Bought from a Barista who made the drinks and transferred the payment to his on-shift-coming colleague. "The señora had a grande and the señorita had a small." The new colleague tried to charge the señorita for both drinks until she said they weren't together.
She sat in the window waiting and warming her fingers. Watching the traffic wend it's way round Trafalgar Square and the crowd gathering to see the exhibits of the London Lumiere. Plastic bottles in the fountain

Monday, 11 January 2016

David Bowie RIP

Absolutely shocked and strangely devastated by this news. It's making my stomach upset... Maybe we never expected such a weird oddity to age (although we occasionally saw him older) or be anywhere close to death, or other mortal worldly states. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Belated Happy New Year

Been back at work for two manic days - full of enrolling students and left over building maintenance from last term. 

But in the most welcomed time off I have had for an age, we did have a rather marvellous time and I forgot to say Happy New Year to the world at large. 

Best present to ourselves was a new mattress which made getting out of bed increasingly difficult - didn't surface at all on New Years Day following the celebrations at two parties - getting home at 4.30am after the panther secretly threw up - far too generous portions of rum given on the final lap. I didn't manage to drink most of mine after being commandeered to dance with a talk skinny woman who was trying to attract the attention of her partner by engaging in some girl on girl play (dancing mainly, and I seem to remember some forehead pressing and fierce staring)... 

Back from the weird and wonderfulness  of a Christmas period wholly played out at other people's parties where the only pressure was to be pretty and entertaining (I made the panther a necktie that matched the dress I made myself - in a sort of bronze fabric - appropriately shiny for the season - a Christmas bauble of a dress). It's all back to normality. Colder, but with lengthening days. 

Happy 2016. 

Eyebrows

As a fan of the eyebrow (I have been known to fall for a person on the strength of their eyebrows alone) I am having an anti-reaction to the fad of the heavily drawn on version sported by some women in recent months - those which are not just filling in the blond or patchy versions but are fiercely drawn with a high arch and squared off inner eye ends that give a sort of Cruella De Ville fakeness to the face. It comes after the fierce pluck fad where natural eyebrows were plucked to within a millimetre of their lives, and goes with the over-groomed male eyebrow in attraction terms - i.e. most unattractive in their fakeness and particular trying-too-hard style. I blame celebrity adoration for this live of all things fake - hair extensions, collagen lips, fake nails, drawn on brows, coloured contact lenses. Cheap versions of all these things add to the plastic-fantastic looks of women at the moment. Kim Khardasian has a lot to answer for. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Ann Veronica Janssens - States of Mind

 

So into a room filled with carbon dioxide vapour, so thick you couldn't see past about 30cms from your face. Totally lost instantly. No idea of size of space. Walk around hands out in front of you because you suddenly can't sense the space at all. People loom out of the mist into your tiny sphere of vision and disappear back again. Hear voices. See no one. Ghosts and shadows materialise into human forms. The mist has coloured light through it, as you move round the room the colours blend and merge. And then hit a wall, can inch round the room to the exit.

At the Wellcome Institute until 3 January.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Frances Ross Duncan



29 July 1943 to 10 December 1995
20 years ago today. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Over- emotional

Having an attack of over-emotionality that I can't exactly explain. Two huge tears crept out when I was reading about a couple who had twins the first one of which died at birth due to a defect they had but they donated her organs. Then this evening a man stood in the carriage and made a speech about going to dalston to stay in a hostel and he'd appreciate any contributions including left over food and I got a lump in my throat thinking about him and humanity. My paper is open on the pages about Cameron calling to be allowed to start bombing Syria. Bomb them before they do us - never minding about the kind of retaliation that could bring down on us. Fight them in that country when the threat to us is more than likely already living amongst us here now. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Phoenix Pottery

From the ashes of our ceramics department closed despite protest the Phoenix Pottery arises. Smaller. More compact. Delightfully non-governmentally funded (for now). And tested. Will be ready for opening in January.


Monday, 16 November 2015

Certification

"You're everywhere", he said.
"I need you to certify my existence", she said over my head to the man smiling broadly, pink face, a couple of pews ahead.
"I can certainly do that", he said. I laughed - it seemed a powerful position to be in. My laugh caught his attention. "I'm a justice of the peace", he explained.
"Oh", I said, "I thought you were just being helpful."
"He's god", the lady boomed over my head again. It made me laugh again.
"Do you need anything certifying?" He asked.
"I'm sure I do but you don't know me to certify anything", I retorted.
"I could certify that you seem nice", he said in triumph.
"That would be nice", said I.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Beast


Darkened space, white body stood with blacked out eyes and blacked out genitals, breathing, music thumping blood. Muscle tight against ribs, ripped. Arms. Rib cage expanding and closing. The body walks on all fours across the space, deliberately, hands and feet placed as a big cat, the only sound of the touch against the floor. Alien. Creature. Spit hanging from its mouth. Front leg and back leg in unison. Fingers bent like claws. Reach the wall, turn face to the audience. Breathing. Like a spider moving towards us. Francis Bacon-risqué. Human as animal. Watching. Then up on two legs. Out of the primordial soup we dragged ourselves upright. Carrying a tray of tea things precariously balancing on tip toes. Naked. Placing it back down carefully and returning upright to attempt to whistle. Trying and trying and almost but not quite managing. Gone. 

Then returned. Dressed in white lace. Proper. Balancing on buttocks legs and upper body extended without touching the floor, effort, strength, muscles tested, limbs quivering. Moving across the floor to pick up a mobile phone whilst balancing o n the shoulders - body up like an s shape. Light from the phone highlighting the neck, retching, throaty, primeval calling, pre language. Return to animal. And light. And light cast out putting the performer in solid darkness. Finally the exuberance of jumping up and down a strong shadow reflecting against the back wall. Big menacing robot on the wall. Small white body jumping up and down in front of it. 

It made me want to run out and help. To look in the same depth as I would look during a life class. Body as object. Alive machine. It made me want to draw. To make studies of the human body again. In its raw form. Stripped down. Stark. 

Powerful. 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Fascinated

I'm fascinated by this grown man colouring in his "Calming art therapy colouring book" on the overground this evening. I might need to do that - it might make the journeys more bearable. Everyone all around him is watching as he felt tips between the lines. It's a queen (like on a deck of cards). 


Monday, 2 November 2015

Happy Halloween


So we had a party to attend on Halloween night and decided we should dress. After the Panther's niece's 5th birthday party we couldn't quite bring ourselves to go home so were on our way to a joint we thought might be a bit happening when we bumped into a lot of similarly dressed ghouls on their way to a party, so we tagged along. It was an old school house party with quiet music and lots of talking. I'm guessing the costumes meant people were less hung up than usual. Best place in the house as usual - swinging between the kitchen (which included a queue for the lavatory) and the roof terrace for smokers (one has to frequent the terrace even if one isn't a smoker - just for the company). We left about 4am without realising it had become so late. The mist had come down and we walked to the bus stop feeling very suitable to the weather, two sheets to the wind, and glad of the back seats of the warm bus once it came. The Panther kept looking at me saying he was trying to see me inside the face. And was greatly looking forward to me washing my face at home. Tres effective make up I think. 



Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Two things

Big fad currently seeping into London - the mini-Segway hover board. First time I saw them two men were on their way out in Shorditch (one assumed from where they were) gliding down the road in hats holding umbrellas against the rain. Then next there was a group of seven youths all riding them down the street in Peckham in a range of colours. Yesterday a woman using one along my street at home. These are electric powered boards to assist walking. It isn't as fast as a bike. And it costs nearly £300. The 'riders' stand bolt upright and still (it appears). It's not about tricks (like a skateboard). And it isn't going to transport you for long distances. So I'm guessing in the future when we all need them we will increase our obesity through lack of needing to walk. 

And then, one hopes, that soon we will get a surgence of 'old style' cafes where it is deemed inappropriate to be using a computer or linked into a screen all the time. The cafe opposite work today was filled with single computer users drinking cups of tea (cheapest item on the menu) at each table. A request to share a table was met with a shrug and when my colleague arrived to drink coffee with me the table 'owner' huffed off elsewhere. Perhaps small cafe owners will tire of providing free electricity and wifi and try to get back to encouraging socialising...