Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Beards

When will the Hoxton Beard thing be over? On the train on the way to work there were two men both with impeccably well groomed hair - short back and sides, slicked quiffs - sporting short beards (trimmed over the upper lip and cut to an even length all over). The beards not really matching the hair for grooming, despite there clearly being work done on them. Not enough work done on the lower neck below the beard line however, stubbly, unattended growth. Not keen on the way the whiskers look around the lips. 

Off the train in Peckham there was a man with the same haircut but a proper full-on long beard - hiding at least half his face, growing length well below the chin, fanning out like it had been brushed. 

This is a look like lumberjacks from the 1930s. It seems inappropriate in the same way range rovers do in the city. What are all these young men hiding from? Or do they think we will be impressed with their hair growing prowess? I'm not averse to a bit of stubble, or even a bit of a goatee. But these big square jaw beards in all shades of brown and orange and white are quite unattractive. And sometimes are just odd when teamed with a waxed mustache or pulled out into strange shapes. It doesnt even seem to be a lazy perspective of not being bothered to shave because there is still quite a bit of looking after to be done.  

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Pub games

Never been very good at pub games - crap at pool, bit of a danger at darts, dont know how to play bar billiards. Used to play Mortal Kombat in the Vibe bar in Brick Lane but was rubbish at it. Was in the Grafton Arms yesterday and apparently they have car racing video games in the urinals (i've been reliably informed, evidenced by pictures of said game not in use). The controls are in tne bowl - hit this spot at the back to go left and this other spot to the right to go right. I was very intrigued to see it but didn't know any man well enough to go in and have a look... And it doesnt seem to be a good idea to ask for film evidence of it in use - men pissing in public tend not to watch so i hear. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Lunchtime

Today the sun is breaking through the crispy white clouds to warm a chilly april day. The rays are so bright passing the glass of the cafe window i have had to take off my glasses to allow my eyes to deal with the light unhindered. The Shard is looming over the street with a glinting sunspot harshly flashing off one of its fascias. People walk up and down the street, fetching lunch, looking about, taking in the daylight. I think of people who are not here right now. Wonder what their day is bringing them. Concern, and hope for good things. I prolong the agony of having to go back to the battery-hen open plan office. So much grey utilitarian desking. So few people of interest. So little colour and spark. Like so much mud to wade through. Maybe it's time to wear red. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Words i learned this week

So i do a bit of pinterest pinning: collecting visual stimulation into groups. Lots of ceramics, photos of the human body that i might eventually draw, quotes and stuff. I learned some new words this way this week. Words that seek to explain or describe aspects of my psyche that i didn't realise had names. 

Sehnsucht (pronounced zEn-'zukt)
German
Noun
"The unconsolable longing in the human heart for we know-not-what"; a yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one identifies as home. 

I didn't know there was a word for this ache - i have it most of the time - particularly when there is not enough stimulation in my life. Bails says she doesn't understand my craving for excitement - she thought i would grow out of it and is suprised that i havent so far. But this is how sehnsucht manifests itself in me, an urge for something more, more than i have, more than I'm experiencing, more, just more. I fear i live a boring life. I don't want it to be dangerous or scary but more eventful and perhaps slightly debauched. Less routine. See more things. I think that might be why i am drawn to people who are edgy. And why i get itchy feet when i've been in London too long without a break. Im currently dreaming of selling everything and taking myself around the world to see if i can find what it is that the heart desires. 

Nyctophilia
Noun
Love of darkness or night; finding relaxation or comfort in darkness. 

I first felt this when i was a child and we drove into Exeter at 2am. Something thrilling about the street lights flashing past the rear window of the car. I didn't know that would become a stimulation in later life. A second wind comes to me frequently after dark, things are more exciting then, in the city anyway. Something in the darkness allows a release that daylight confines. I dont think I have done enough in life to harness this to its most advantage. 

Basorexia
Noun
The overwhelming desire to kiss. 

I love kissing. There are people who you know without testing will be good at it. Something about the set of their mouth, or an arch of eyebrow (not that there is any correlation but when a man has good eyebrows they are generally ok - perhaps its just something about attraction). Sometimes its a test of will not to kiss someone, even a stranger - I get that sometimes on the way to work on the tube. Crushed in, focused only on a small fraction of the face - not staring. Then there are times with people known to you where the time or setting makes it inappropriate and that is a harder-still test of will. But it is no longer attractive to snog furiously in public (at my grand age I really dont want to look like middle-aged desperately clinging to youth). I remember a night bus journey home from Leicester square to Enfield Town where the man and i didnt draw breathe once. The thrills of youth. All in the past. But its the worst part about the complacency of a lengthening relationship - less kissing, and less passionately. 




Saturday, 15 March 2014

Spring is sprung

Blossom. Its beautiful. A flurry of delicious scent and floaty petals. Sunshine with a hint of heat warming it up and wafting it around. One or two particles hit the nasal passages. Turning the face to the sunshine and feeling the rays for the first time this year. Warmth into the collars of the winter clothes. Enough to know it is now ok to reduce the number of layers. Not warm enough to do as some of the crazy sun worshippers have done and put on short lightweight cotton dresses and flip flops. These peoole are slightly goosebumpy in the breeze. Warm enough for open jackets and no scarf and a teeshirt in case its truly hot in the middle of the day. Obviously lengthening days. Glory of the coming summer months. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Out out

So friday night - went to see Her with pops. Was a good film. Liked it more than i thought i would. After we met Bails and her friend Steve. Had a drink. Cocktails in a little side street bar in Canonbury. Old fashioned's. Warmth of whiskey and sweetness of orange zest. Marvellous on a chilly evening, with good  mixologists behind the bar. 

Being quizzed on the stance of the modern middle-aged woman (supposed to be a joke but sadly feel it may not be possible, any longer, to feel this is far from the truth) by an ever so slightly old fashioned man, as it turns out. He decided we were the right age group to be MILFs (not flattered exactly) and then decided we were probably cougars (still not flattered exactly). And if we are cougar - does that mean automatically that we are preditory and looking for younger? Don't know about the influence of interent porn - seems to give you too many boxes to be put into! Its no longer possible to just be whoever you are - you have to fit into an appropriate category to be able to be understood by the world at large. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Woke up this morning

Woke up this morning to the alarm ringing and couldn't understand why. The phone alarm has gone wrong - just another minor irritation in the slow breakdown as we get closer to the date they will upgrade me. And then it dawned on my dream addled head - its bloody Monday. That's why the alarm is ringing. Bad luck for you its work today!  Whoop. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Night bus

Long evening of drinking and dancing followed by a night bus journey home.I haven't been on a night bus for some time. And especially an N29.

I was lucky the doors stopped right by me so i got on second and found a seat. 

I was sitting opposite a couple of dollybirds who looked a bit worse for wear. Not a coat between them. No tights. Just a thick layer of fake tan keeping them warm. One of them was carrying her extremely high platform shoes rather than wearing them. They were slumped in their seats - one with her back to the other. Hair messed so you could see their extensions sewn in where the outer layer of hair was no longer covering it. 

The one nearest the window was softly whining and crying. There were black mascara streaks running down in furrows through her foundation on both cheeks. Fake eyelashes holding large drops of tears. Her sister (it transpired when she turned back to her) said why does it happen every time? You can't live with me anymore, you're a nightmare, go back to Mum, you aren't ready to look after yourself. She then got up and stood by the door ready to get off. At the next stop the doors opened and she shouted at the tear stained one, are you coming or are you just going to sit on the bus? When her sister just managed to get off in time she jumped back on, in the hope to leave her sister stranded on the street. 

Some how both girls were still on the bus but without a seat. Tearful one was mumbling to herself how she couldn't fucking cope with it anymore. It wasn't clear whether that meant life in general, her sister, this night in particular or having to stand on the bus (she turned to an older woman at one point asking when she was getting off because she needed to sit fucking down - older woman ignored her with distain). The annoyed sister sat on the floor and at some point kicked out at her sister's ankles whereupon they set about each other in a half hearted manner - punching and kicking. The other passengers looked on in disbelief. Eventually they fell out of the bus at Holloway and wended off into the night. Drunk, disorderly and discordant. Bet they had a horrible Sunday - hungover and arguing, or hungover and ignoring each other, trying to avoid one another in a flat. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Leaving home

Recently my nephew (aged 9) got so mad about having to do guitar practice that he packed a bag and stormed up to the front door announcing his intention to leave. He didn't in the end. He packed his bear-suit onsie and his wrestling figures. His dad gave him a toothbrush and some toothpaste to put in. And then his mum cried and said she would miss him if he went. So he stayed. I'm interested in what the important items to take are, in a 9 year old's mind. I dont remember wanting to leave at that age either. My sister recounting the story made me laugh actually. And that made her laugh also. Perhaps i should provide him with a tag with my address and phone number on it so if he really decides to do it he can come to me which would at least be safer.

Friday, 31 January 2014

The evil of curly hair

We went to see a digitally enhanced version of the black and white film Night of the Hunter at the BFI. Robert Mitchum plays a serial killer who pretends to be a priest. In the beginning if the film he is driving a car along the road and offering a prayer to god,"There are things that you hate Lord, perfume smelling things, lacy things, things with curly hair". As a naturally curly haired person this made me laugh out loud. What is it with all the jealousy of the curly haired that we get all this? Like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead... Don't straight-haired people know how difficult curly hair can be to manage?

Monday, 27 January 2014

Airports

Funny places airports, excited and tension of waiting for your party to arrive. Tired people over packed. Endless searching the crowd for recognition. Its exhausting. And i dont think the plane I'm waiting for has even landed yet. Hate that nervousness wondering whether everything has changed or if it will be the same. Experiences can change people. 

And greetings, love and hugs and flowers and laughter. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

New bad neighbours

The neighbours who lived next to me to the left when I moved in have recently moved away. They were chavvy but nice enough. But in some ways it helps me avoid the little embarrassment of my cat names.

When I saw pictures of the kittens I was getting I had an epiphony for names in tbe night - the girl cat was Philomena, and the boy cat was Leopold. My sister said its a good thing I don't have kids because they would be lumbered with some godawful names going by those. But these names suit the cats and you can shorten then to Philly (or Pip if you are my dad and are looking after them) and Leo. Better for shouting out the back door. What i hadn't realised at the time was that my neighbour was called Wilimena. And her 16 year old daughter had just had a baby and called him Leo. You discover these things in London due to proximity of living conditions hearing family life go on over the wall. I hadn't realised I had named my cats after my chavvy neighbours. And was then totally embarrassed to shout their names at all!

Anyway. They moved and in their place a new family moved in. On the day they arrived they had a fight and an ambulance and the police had to attend. Then there were lots of arguments, slamming of front doors, and shouting. Drunk dad would arrive home opening the door saying don't any of you fucking piss me off, not you, or you, or the fucking dog. I feel sorry for the dog. It's confused. They were concerned it didn't bark when people came to the door, so they taught it to do that. Now it does that, they shout at it because it barks when they get home. They also have three or four cats, I can't quite figure it out. But of all the things, the worst is they don't do any recycling and they make rubbish like its going out of fashion. Our bins are only emptied once a fortnight. Once they fill theirs up, they fill mine up as well. Which as long as I can fit my rubbish in wouldn't be so bad, but I can't, so it really gets my goat. Antisocial. Bring back the chavs, would be my preferance!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Alternative employment - the options

What other job could i do, discussion with my sister. Suggesting i teach adults in the kind of setting i already work in. Not that keen. Not enough salary. 

She's been watching The Bridge, and thought i could be a detective. But don't you have to be a policeman first? I laugh. Loudly. Me? A policeman. Hilarious. Wouldn't mind the detective bit. But not sure it would work with my politics and stuff. 
Fireman? just laughing. Not even a need to examine why not (don't love ladders at height, couldn't throw a man over my shoulder to rescue him, might be able to drive the engine...), nah. Ludicrous. Never was that keen on wearing uniforms. 
Maybe i should be a criminal she says. What sort? I'm slightly indignant. Fraud says she. But I'm not a great liar. Could you lie on the phone and be a scammer of some sort? I think. Its a bit shitty though isn't it? And my IT skills arent up to it. 
You could run a house. She says. I pause. Madam, she means. How does she come up with that? Thats one of my joke dream jobs! Hostess. Make men comfortable. Make sure the girls are clean. Don't actually have to shag the dirty mac brigade myself. But i like men. As a gross generalisation. We laugh. I can't believe she said it! I've said it myself before. As a joke! She knows me better than i think. I'm an open book, sadly. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Morning

Jack frost has coated the cars and grass. The bus is crowded with school children. They can see their breath in the cold air, even inside. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Filming

They are filming Youngers in Choumert road today. They have transformed the Internet cafe into 'Shorn Combs' barbers and have parked three huge lorries along the street. Lots of young actors milling about in clean bright urban streetwear, getting tea and soup from the refreshment cart. And cameramen, lighting, sound engineers, etc. Inside the cafe at lunch the regular iPad engrossed clientele ignore the hubub on the street. Me I kinda want to join in! 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Things which delight the mind

Whilst running/walking along Tottenham Marshes (dragging the Christmas dinner belly along for the first time - distractions very necessary)



  • Reeds on the canal
  • A tree full of long tailed tits
  • Seven cormorants roosting on an electricity pylon overlooking the reservoir
  • Canada geese and two swans
  • The cold wind burning my cheeks
  • Looking for a rainbow as the sun glimmers for a few minutes out from the grey clouds as fat drops start to fall




Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2014 mistakes

Bad move - lent my phone to someone on our way home (giving them and some others a lift) - he'd run out of credit - he called 15 people at 6am. No one answered. They are all texting me asking me who is this today. And some of them are quite shirty demanding to know who I am. 

2014

Started the New Year's Eve celebrations talking about the last few hours of 2013 - putting it to bed, fresh starts and all that. Celebrated the new year in five minutes after getting into a club having queued round the block for an hour. Danced and wandered around. Got in at 7am. Haven't seen the day at all today! Perhaps it isn't starting as I mean to go on! Happy 2014. Hope it's a good one.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Breakdown

I drive an old car. It's a retro golf gti. But that is sort of irrelevant to the story. The bad thing about old cars is that they are liable to breakdown. 

Driving to pick up my sister and her kids from kings cross station passing St Pancras it stalled and didn't have any power left. I was stuck in the middle lane of three lanes of solid traffic. Hazards on. Unsure how to proceed. A cab stopped and asked what was wrong and suggested I get to the side of the road and call my breakdown cover. A man on the pavement came over and pushed me into the drive of the St Pancras Hotel. We stopped when he couldn't shove it uphill on his own anymore. Relieved and very grateful. 

The doorman from the hotel sidled down and asked what was wrong. I broke down and it has no power. Well you can't stay here it's private property. I'm only going to be here while I call the breakdown company. His colleague came. Have you got a permit? No. Well these spaces are paid for by the residents of the building. I'm broken down, I don't want to park here. Well you can't leave it here. What do you suggest I do then? We will help you to push it back onto the street. 

I look at the Euston Road, there are three solid lanes, a bus lane, double red lines. It's a ridiculous suggestion. I laugh at him. I can't wait here for the breakdown company? No madam. You don't have a permit. There are two wedding buses coming shortly and they need to get past. I cast my eye over the 30 empty parking spaces. 

At which point my sister came round the corner from Kings Cross with her children. Overhearing this she started on him - you cannot push this car onto that road - it's dangerous. Look at how many spaces you have, it not like we are going to be here for ages. She called the local police. He told her they have no jurisdiction here it's private property. 

Two staff from the wedding venue came down. One very reasonably said - we are going to push the car out of the way - up to there. While you wait for the breakdown company. Thank you. The four of them pushed the car up the hill and backed it up in front of a lovely clean Mercedes. Individually they each asked how long we were going to be. I will let you know, I said. 

They all went back to their jobs. The buses arrived and decanted guests into the reception. We waited. And finally an hour later I tried the car again and it started. We crossed our fingers and went on our way after cancelling the breakdown people. 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas

The aftermath is a kitchen where almost every pot, plate, glass and implement in the house is waiting to be washed and the dishwasher has been going solidly since yesterday. Good food and good fun though. 





Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas dinner

By Christmas, how many Christmas dinners will you have had? Today In our staff canteen they are doing roast with lamb. That's roasted potatoes and parsnips, over-boiled sprouts and lamb slices, with a side of pigs in blankets. It looks and smells most unappetising. Last week on our works do you had a choice of roast turkey dinner or something else. I chose the something else because turkey can be so dry. I was right. That time the portions were on the extreme stingy side. It was like Noah's ark - 2 sprouts, 2 roasted potatoes, 2 parsnips, 2 carrots (pieces not whole parsnips or carrots). A well roasted dinner can be a delight but it can also be dreary and unappealling. Particularly when it comes in long metal trays in bulk! I prefer to wait for the real deal. 

Friday, 13 December 2013

Journey


"Have you ever pretended to be a monkey for five hours?"

My sentiments exactly after five hours on the train. Actually I was itching to get off after fifty minutes. Shorter attention span than usual. Much like a monkey. 





Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

I've been thinking about Nelson Mandela a lot but haven't known what to say.  He was very influential in my youth. And I think back fondly on those politicised and active times. I spent over a year picketing outside South Africa House in Trafalgar Square for his release in the late 80s. My designated time was from 11-1 on a Saturday although I ended up staying for much of the afternoon generally until we slopped off to the pub. We collected petition signatures, sang songs, chanted and felt like we were doing a good thing. There was comraderie there. And some genuine communists. I met Archbishop Desmond Tutu once when he came over to show his solidarity with the non-stop picket while he was in London on some greater business. 

I was 17. It felt like we could change the world if enough of us joined in. We individually sanctioned South African produce refusing to buy Rowntrees, bank with Barclays or buy South African fruit and veg. Persuaded the adults in the family to do the same as far as we could. We hated Mrs Thatcher for her refusal to sanction South Africa. And all the bands and artists who played Sun City (stand up Elton John, Queen, Rod Stewart, to name a few).

And then in 1990 he was released. It was a jubilant time. Like grass roots political activism was a powerful and important mechanism. This older, smiling, strong, amazing individual walked free and seemed to change the world. 

It was heartwarming across the world. To people who were not directly under his power. But were inspired and amazed and awed by him. He had a long, important, influential life.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Arsy day

Today has been an arsy day (irritating with annoying people and their demands - and the predictive text doesn't believe in cussing and keeps wanting to sanitise my words into something that doesn't make any sense). Finally on my way home. Sitting on a bus at some traffic lights. Next to us a cab driver smokes a fag slowly out of his open window. Behind him a bus has pulled up and honks at him. He leans out of his window with an angry scowl and gestures wanker at him. Bus driver honks again. Taxi driver mouths into his mirror fuck off. And when the light goes green he sits there smoking until he is good and ready to move off. The epitome of what an arsy day makes you do. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Post pottery pizza club

It's late, I'm a bit drunk from drinking sambucas on ice to wash down a couple of slices of "really hot" pizza with extra pineapple. Everything seems a bit crazy in Finsbury park. Lidls doors open when I pass by so I go in looking for catfood only to be told by the third or forth staff member I pass that they are actually shut. I'm not the only errant shopper in there. Their security guard comes out from the back in a big strop. There is a tall man at the railings of the park trying to help his friend climb out of the park without being impaled on the railings. They are laughing too much and he's stuck on the top with a railing spike between his legs. The bus is going to be eight minutes. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Attempted Mugging

It's winter. The streets are dark, cold, wet and deserted. Walking at 9pm from my dad's to Mr's. Streets I've known forever. Running footsteps coming up the railway bridge behind me. I'm aware. They pass me and carry on. I'm passing under enormous plain trees around which has recently been repaved so the path is flatter and not cracked by their roots. I turn onto Oakfield road. Passing over the railway I hear running steps again and then someone grabs my handbag handles and jerks, give me the bag he growls. Instant reaction is to hold firmly and I shout no, loudly. Louder than I realise I can. Top of my lungs. No! Leave me alone! Get away from me! Fuck off! As we struggle with the bag between us. I shove him in the chest. He turns and runs off leaving me. I have my bag. I check whether he managed to get anything out of it (not sure why I think he could have). And then I turn and run the rest of my way, looking back sometimes. I'm shaking. But not really as afraid as I thought might have been. When I get in they can't believe what happened and question me about where, what and who did this. I remember he was wearing pale jeans and a tan balaclava. I think he was a teenager. He was slight. Not tall (similar to me). And they laughed, incredulous. And then said they were proud of me fighting him off. I think they may have thought I would have wimped out and given in. I thought I might as well but instinct does surprising things sometimes. 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Inadvertent peeping tom

Opposite my office is a row of shops with flats above. There's a woman in the top flat brushing her hair looking in a mirror she has leaned against the window. She hasn't a stitch of clothing on. Bare. Nude.  Like a naturist (as opposed to naked, like in porn, if you recognise the difference). But we have builders on the roof of our building. I doubt she realises she can be seen. Or maybe she really is just nude and doesn't care to be seen that way. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Autumn drawing in

The afternoon darkened gradually until fat raindrops splattered the windows, then ran down in thick riverlets. Everything dark grey. Apart from a sparkling yellow edged cloud, that reminded you it was only 3 o'clock in the afternoon. One of those afternoons at work where distraction has to come from inside the building because the outside has closed around you. Free disgusting coffee and hot chocolate from the machine. Mild Friday flirting at the coffee machines. Short conversations with people you only know by sight. Not your team, no reason to speak to them really. Like so many familiar strangers at the train station every morning. One or two have breached this stand offishness. People from the company who do totally different roles to you that you talk about outside work activity to. Weird hot desking open plan working. People meet in glass walled rooms. No hiding. 

Fantasy overtakes the mind from boredom. I'm imagining swinging the revolving chair round and flashing a la Sharon Stone in basic instinct. Giving a particular someone in the glass meeting room a thrill. That fantasy evolves into round beds with satin sheets, slip-sliding through the wrinkles with a air of abandon. Boredom. A bad thing for a creative mind on a Friday afternoon. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Word blindness

Pops and I were working a code word puzzle in the evening standard. It's one where I was being a bit risky with putting in the letters (feeling like sometimes I had to try it in order to move forward). One of the cross checks could have been SHAM or WHAM, with the word WHIM/SHIM/WHOM/SHOM. We eventually decided it had to be WHOM - a word neither of us knew but were pronouncing WOM. Only on looking it up in the dictionary did we realise this is that commonly used word whom

whom
huːm/
pronoun
  1. 1.
    used instead of ‘who’ as the object of a verb or preposition.

We laughed at ourselves. 



Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Pets in the supermarket

Been to the vets (by public transport) on the way home popped into the supermarket. Put the cat basket in the trolley and hoped nobody would notice. Which almost nobody did. Is it bad? My feeling is that while not quite ok it's less bad than taking a dead mouse in one of my shopping bags and accidentally tipping it out on the floor by the checkout...

Close

In the dead of night lying wrapped around the hard body of my bedfellow. Secure in the arms that hold me. Nuzzling into his neck and toying with his earlobe. The bed is familiar. The night dark and shadows in the room are normal to me. The trundling night trains passing have become soothing over time rather than distracting. These are the times. The times of whispered dreams and hopes. Of soothing words and accompanying strokes. A hand over hair, brushing skin of the shoulder and hollow of the lower back. Comforting. Lovely. 

Autumn

Silver birch trees flashing the pale undersides of their leaves in the wind. A delightful flickering of brightness in the autumn sunshine. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Post exercise blues

Been having some bad days recently. Despondent and out of sorts. Itchy feet. Unhappy. I've been putting it down to a sense of boredom and feeling the need to broaden my horizons. Someone at work today said she knew exactly what it was. Post gym blues. She said I complain of this on the days after I've been in the gym. Post seretonin come down or something. Apart from the health benefits, I always knew the gym was bad for you!!