Sunday, 31 August 2003


Roll up roll up. Ride a cock horse. Round and round, where she stops nobody knows. And the tinkering music rings out over the piazza, bright lights and bells. Round and round. One last thing to do before setting off home back to suburbia, the kids, the dog and being an adult.
Selfridges and Marks and Sparks 16:00 Saturday Afternoon

A gaggle of Arab ladies wearing long black abaya robes with their hair covered hover in the makeup department of Selfridges. Thick black khol around their eyes. Plum lipstick. One is getting her lips done by the Beckham-esque beauty counter boy - his streaky blond hair held back by a red plastic hairband. No doubt they arrived together in about four large black chauffeur-driven mercedes, dropped off to shop for the last three hours of opening at Selfridges and M&S. They wear expensive designer sunglasses and strappy glitzy sandals. I imagine that under the abaya they wear designer clothes. And then suddenly they are gone. Puff into thin air as if they were never there in the first place. Genies back into the lamp. Invisible lives.
Public Transport Etiquette
Rule 1: give people more room if the bus is empty

When the bus empties and you are the only two left on the bus, strangers sharing a seat, there is an opportunity that opens up when the outer person can choose to move. It shuts after about five minutes where upon they feel they must stay put so as not to offend you by making you feel there is something wrong with you (like you just farted or something) causing them to make the move. So they don't move and you both sit there on an empty bus right next to each other crushed onto the seat. You, as the inside person, are left trying to will them into moving while feeling more and more claustrophobic as time goes on.

So when the bus empties and you're the outside person just MOVE.

Saturday, 30 August 2003

The Russians Are Coming!

An elderly woman with a strong deep russian accent was talking to herself and the bus in general, " gambling places in Russia - Americans brought them. I play bridge but not for money but they are very intelligent cards. And I play, what you call...Chess. Very intelligent games only. In Russian they don't have gardens or parks, they didn't let us. No gambling but the communists couldn't break us. We liked Macdonalds even though they say spit it out. No salt, no coffee, no red meat, no childcare. My husband couldn't stand gambling, he smoked, couldn't stop him, he died, didn't gamble though. Chocolate is bad to eat. Some people sit and eat it all the time. I live here 65 years I know where I am now... ha! He smiled to me, I don't know him... whuupp! Oh my godt - crash on Upper Street - I guess the driver must stop in an emergency. You know darlink, if you always do right you never do wrong - always be nice to your husband, your children, have plenty sex with your husband, always do right and you'll never do wrong..."

I was expecting a very large old woman with a stick and bleached blond hair. But she wasn't.

Thursday, 28 August 2003

In Search of Super Drugs

The website said it shuts at 7.00pm - ample time to sit on the bus on the way over there. Been feeling that my creative juices have been drying up - need time contemplating nothing as well as time doing exciting outrageous things to keep the thought processes going (neither of which have been forthcoming of late).

The bus driver was jerky. I wish they'd introduce a system for rating bus drivers like they do on blog listing sites. There could be a panel actually on the bus with buttons to press that indicate to some central system in the depot how well the driver is doing - smooth, jerky, heavy on the brakes, too fast, too slow etc. Then when too many complaints of a particular nature occured - they could call the bus driver and give him feedback on how to improve the journey from the passengers' perspective.

Trip to Wood Green. Place of gangs of single mums and double buggies hogging the pavement. Where its been necessary to build a Boots with a revolving door that can accomodate two buggies abreast. There's something awful about shopping malls - shopping indoors - that's soulless like being at the airport. Identikit shops. Identikit clothes. Place of men with huge gold necklaces and girls with pink eyeshadow and piercings over their lip with diamonds in. Hair like peacock's tail feathers. Skin tight jeans with writing all over them or tackpants with hottie scrawled across the arse. And bloody Superdrug shut at 6.22pm.

But I did see this on the way home - ever grown your toenails long? Can't imagine how you walk if you don't have stacked shoes on. Or how uncomfortable closed toe shoes would be!

Oh and theres only 119 shopping days until Christmas so get your crackers at Boots NOW!?!?!?!
Underground Frankenstein and My Two Friends Having a Picnic on the Tube

Snapshots from the Tube.

It puts me in mind of a film I saw at The Scala during one of their epic all nighters (way back in the days when the Scala was a cinema and not a club) - AL and I watched Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Carrie and eventually a little-known film called On the Line or maybe Deathline.

Its about a couple of cannibals that are living underneath Russell Square tube - his wife has bubonic plague or something and he captures the last person off the last tube and kills them to feed them to her. He can't speak modern English apart from MIND THE GAP and stand clear of the doors, wailing through the empty tunnels.

The Scala used to be great if you missed the last tube home and there wasn't a night bus (these were much more scarce at this time) - on Saturday nights they would have films all night long - you could sit and drink beer until the light came up and the first tube started. The downside of this was that it was also used in exactly the same way by the homeless of Kings Cross (there were many fewer of these at this time also).
What did I know on Sunday?

  • Picadilly exists only as the centre of tourist London.

  • Lillywhites is staffed entirely by twitish middleclass students having a laugh (shan't be going there again in a hurry).

  • Hot chocolate has become too sweet since I've been drinking mostly water.

  • Being queue-jumped makes me mad.

  • August is an expensive month cos it has five weekends.

Monday, 25 August 2003

Touch Sensitivity

Bails bought me an amazing plant on the weekend - at the moment it is small and a bit worse for not having had a loving home for a while (garden centre's don't always nurture their plants well enough) but it has this weird thing where it is sensitive to touch. In the sun it's leaves are a bit like small ferns - open and delicate and beautiful but if something brushes against it the leaves close very suddenly and the limb that they are on hangs down like a dead thing (visibly does this). Currently it looks dead because it sleeps at night and all the leaves close up and hang down.

It looks like something from dinosaur times but on a very small scale - not like plants that we have now but all those ones that are carnivorous and have wells of poisonous enzymes. Reminiscent of triffids. Remember the TV programme called The Day of the Triffids? I still don't like certain sorts of plants much because of the fear of that programme - red tipped slimy looking specimens terrify me!

I also don't feel I can snip dead bits off this plant because it so visibly doesn't like to be touched - is there truth in the Roald Dahl story from 29 Kisses that told of roses screaming when they were cut and trees roaring in pain when being chopped down?
Monday's Life Class

Wasn't running because of the bank holiday so no pictures today. Had planned to have a drink with the drawing class crowd but when it came down to it there seemed no need - M was going to the movies with his neurotic Norweigian friend from the Thursday night class.

The last time we went out with her it lead to HS and I having a contest as to which of our star signs would beat the other in stubbornness which then went right down to the wire of which of us would actually beat the other - she's an Aries (good horns and ability to ram its contestant - so a good contender) however I'm a taurus (bull - longer forward pointing horns, much more ferocious and BIGGER - they don't have ram-fighting in spain for a good reason - too easy to win). I mean, really, an aries is basically a sheep (this was the basis of my argument and in the presence of another taurean we felt this was good reason to win). However HS was standing up to the argument in a good aries manner by being very stubborn and disagreeing. Personally didn't know aries were known to be stubborn but then I think these characteristics are made up by Geminis who have to bolster themselves up by giving all other signs negative and abhorrent traits. Neither of us backed down but it was a circular unwinnable debate. Ultimately a ridiculous waste of time.

I also felt maybe it would be good to have a decent night's sleep for once on a Monday having not drunk too much and stayed out too long on the first day of the week.

And it would save hearing maddeningly stupid jokes that I would have to try to remember from the Weds/Thurs night drawing tutor. Last offering:

Man goes to the doctor.
Doctor: "What can I do for you today?"
Man: "I'm concerned that I seem to have a piece of lettuce hanging out of my bum"
Doctor: examines the piece of lettuce "Humm, yeesss, it is cause for concern - it appears to be only the tip of the iceberg..."

(My head is in my hands).

Friday, 22 August 2003

How to Put on a Hat

The hat in question is a chinese / cuban communist style cap - made of gingham(y) cotton. You are oriental in appearance. The method is as follows: scrape back the top central part of the hair several times, sort of flattening it out; put the visor onto the forehead and pull the back firmly onto your head; pat the top fo your head to make sure the hair underneath is flat enough; pull out some good sized chunks on either side to act like sideburns - scrape them forward of your ears - a la seventies mid-length-hair-man; check flatness on top again.

This is the thing that has always put me off hats - they are sooo much work! And if you then want to take it off - the hair horrors underneath!
Swimming Lessons

Pops is in Palm Springs swimming in one of those small outdoor pools that are tiled and beautiful and blue and empty - but weird shaped and not good for a proper session of length swimming. He is trying to get his strokes right - he was in the navy but I don't think they taught him how to swim properly. So he was asking me for swimming lessons on email earlier today (as kids we were taken every week for probably 14 years and learned to swim very well - proper breathing and everything).

Anyway I thought I would share with you:
Harriet's Theory of Swimming

  • Breakstroke legs - get propulsion from the force you push your feet backwards in the water - don't do arms and legs at the same time - better to stagger the strokes so that arms pull water past the straight body rather than against your bent up legs. Also arms pull down slightly in the water so that they push water past your underbelly.

  • Frontcrawl legs - small up and down kicking - not much splashing - splashing is wasting energy. Keep the feet in the water.

  • Backstroke legs - like frontcrawl only upside down - again legs as straight as possible and small up and down kicking - fast but also not much splashing.

  • The aim when swimming is to use the stength of the arms to pull you through the water - deeper in the water will propel you further faster than on the surface. Legs help but they mustn't hinder the arm's pulling. Like with a plane's wings the water has to move over or round your body so you need to think about the combination of arms and legs so that the legs don't get in the way of the arms motion - get it right and you get double the propulsion, get it wrong and you'll be wasting the effort of one or the other.

I suggest if you want to try this you should learn it by heart - if you take the paper to the pool it will get wet and disintegrate. Happy splashing.
Inside London Flash Mob ##2

Look at all the Tauraus' and Virgos in The Griffin at 6.10pm. The bar staff were rushed off their feet getting cokes and half pints for everyone who then turned round and watched Friends on the TV screen over the fruit machines. Atmosphere was lively with anticipation. People checking their watches and looking intently around in case they miss something. We tried to look nonchalant and not stare at the fruit machines (rumours of last time the instructions being left on the fruit machine). 6.20ish a slip of a girl gave me a tiny scrap of paper with the instructions on. This message will self destruct in 10 seconds... Planners discussed exactly what it meant - which side of hungerford bridge how long it would take to walk there. Suddenly the bar cleared, some confused man who had been at the back of a sea of people got to the front of the queue in a split second and joked with the barman about ways to clear a bar, barman shrugged.

Strolled down Villiers Street to Embankment and passed through the underground station and up onto the footbridge. 6.30 a roar of AHOY! went up as a train went passed (instructions said - wave heartily). Spent 10mins waving frantically at trains, shouting AHOY! at passing boats and clicking our fingers, not answering the phone calls we had instructed our friends to make to us at 6.35. Trains tooted, boats blew their horns, passengers waved frantically back. We stood laughing waiting for another passing passenger service. At 6.40 we left, in all different directions and paid complements to two complete strangers. Someone liked the colour of my hair. I liked someone's shirt.

I met bails for a drink at the Royal Festival Hall - she said it looked hysterical from the pavement - hundreds of people shouting and waving off the bridge. She was really pleased because someone had told her she had great hair (she was quite put out that they may not have meant it because they were instructed to do so).

What a laugh!

For more information London Flash Mobs and report. And I've just discovered over at Diamond Geezer that there was another mob dancing and singing in the rain in Somerset House who then came and looked at us from Waterloo Bridge.

Tuesday, 19 August 2003


Targets headache, migraine, period pain, muscular. The boyfiend asked me today how does it know where to go?

LOL but actually I don't know.
Late Night Bus Journey

Mother and son sat on the bus going home. The spitting image of each other apart from the age difference and gender. She had that 1940s look with curled hair parted on the side and pinned away from her face and a tight but neat mouth perfect for red lippy. He had the same mouth but tried to hide it with a blond mustache. Their lips made them look like they were smiling even in repose. He had extremely effeminate hands and gestures. She got really over-exaggeratedly furious when the bus breaked heavily and her shopping bags fell sideways. I think they lived a quiet but fraught life together, not saying much.

And then to my great suprise she got off at Manor House and they didn't say goodbye because they didn't know each other. Remarkable resemblence of two strangers (unless of course they were mother and son but were barely on speaking terms).
Monday's Life Class

Today we were drawing in an upstairs studio that is normally reserved for exhibitions - nice open space, light, windows. The model was late but finally arrived. The task this evening was to draw the figure in situ. Strong lighting because there was only one spotlight and as the sun goes down the shadows are accentuated.

Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.

Sunday, 17 August 2003

Kenwood Lakeside Concerts and Picnics

AL had a great idea that it would be lovely in the current climate to to one of these Saturday picnic and concert evenings being held at Kenwood - she decided we should go and hear Bjorn Again, the Abba tribute band that frequently plays at the Venue, New Cross (I have previously seen them there). I started emailing people to find out who wanted to go. Had a flurry of emails with TD who seemed keen - right down to getting directions and meeting times and other such details, when tragically AL informed me that she had misread the brochure and found that actually a Queen tribute band were playing on the particular Saturday we were going to go. On imparting this new found knowledge the lines went very very quiet.

AL's colleagues had originally thought she was mad to be getting excited over a tribute Abba and thought that a tribute Queen was a vast improvement. Personnally I couldn't quite decide which was better but was erring on the side of Abba purely because of their recently new found cool thanks to the gay scene (I was still happy to go but had decided I couldn't tell anyone where I had been). Still can't decide - Abba or Queen - which is naffer?

We didn't actually see the band because we opted to sit in the restricted viewing section (i.e. not paying £10 per person to sit in the enclosure) with many others doing the same. Was suprised there weren't more Queen fans there - very mixed audience - sometimes felt they hadn't read who was playing at all had just decided to come for the mass picnic. I had expected to see more of those droopy rock teenagers with tour-dates teenagers and aging rock dudes and chicks.

Having been brought up on a diet of Queen, the Bee Gees and the King Singers (little known fact about the muso-snob that is bails, or rather was bails when I first met her) Bails knew all the words and could recognise the songs after the first couple of notes - something that only someone who has listened to the music for some time, and come to know it intimately, can do. How have I never known this before?! Big stadium anthems rocked the Kenwood hillside. Somehow we all knew enough words to sign along. And the set was rounded off with the Bohemian Rhapsady and We Will Rock You set to fireworks.

All this week I have been looking for Mars in the night sky but still haven't managed to see it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2003

Why I Love...

I sometimes read this little snippet in the G2 - today its called Why I Love Duct Tape.

From the article: Inevitably, there are mad duct tape fans who, rather than patch a hole in an old leather sofa, will cover the entire thing and turn it into a spill-resistant statement - an objet d'uct, if you like.

Here is a picture of my junk shop find - a second-hand chesterfield-type leather two seater sofa with a brass base - bought for a measly £30 + £5 delivery. It took up residence in my father's kitchen. He had some covers made for it but instead of getting them dirty has resorted to patching the leather with duct tape. The innards are still in good nick although the outside leaves a lot to be desired. I didn't know we were part of a botch fix it crowd. I bet there's a newsgroup for lovers of duct-tape sofas.
Chicago and all things Irish

Our conversation this morning at work went a little like this:

Chicago the windy city, dyes its river green on St Patrick's Day. The man with the porn star name said he knew some irish folk songs that mention Chicago (he's irish), "but I'm not going to sing any forya". "Oh go on, gowan, gowangowangowan" (a la Mrs Doyle). That's very typically irish, they always say, "You'd like a cup of tea wouldn't you? Oh you would...but everyone else is having one. You'll have one anyway.." He also said they were very inquisitive (read: nosy) like when asking directions "could you tell me the way to the nearest post office?", to which the reply "Personal letter is it?"
The Man with the Mole

There was a man at the bus stop with a mole this morning - the kind of mole that grows thick black hairs. He had allowed his mole hairs to grow and they were easily 7cm long! I've never seen anything like it - you could have plaited them. I think he had some kind of zen strength thing going on - power of the mole. I bet he was a chinese medicine doctor.

After that I was tuned-in to hairs and saw another man with one long stray nose hair that hung out of his nostril by about a cenitmetre and a half.
The Office Toilet Seat Saga

The seat has been replaced... without heeding my long investigation into the root cause of the problem. An identical seat has been installed and in discrete discussion with another colleague I have corroborated my fear that the slight shift I felt may well mean that this seat will also bite the dust in no time. I will now venture forth to hardware stores and try to find a seat that will be more successful - if I start now I may find one by the time we need the next new one...

Tuesday, 12 August 2003

COOWee Tiger, I'm Sweating Like a P. I. G!

And the big sweat continues... The rich side of the office have a clip on shelf fans for every worker, 3 floor standing fans strategically placed around the office and three medium sized fans placed strategically inbetween (there is a dividing door between the funders and the projects that is locked from their side when they are not there - we feel like second class citizens because we, as tenants are largely told how things will be - therefore last summer during Big Brother 3 the divide became lovingly known as the the rich side/poor side) - a total of about 10 fans between 8 present colleagues. On the poor side we as individual projects have collectively two standing floor fans and two clip on shelf fans between 8 present project colleagues.

I love the heat:
  • You get to wear sandals everyday, good sandals make you lengthen your stride and relax into your gait, hips can swing and you feel like you are on holiday.

  • Because you are wearing sandals you attend to your feet - slough the dead skin off, cream them, paint their toenails - they therefore look great

  • You leave work at a reasonable time every night a. because it is too hot to stay a moment longer and b. because its lovely to spend some time relaxing in the park / pub / bath / garden etc rather than working.

  • You get a tan (even slightly) and everyone thinks you look very healthy.

  • Gin & tonics and all sorts of great fruit cocktails - and everyone wants to drink them with you.

  • You experience the wall of heat thing that ususally signifies being abroad - if you close your eyes you could pretend you were far far away in a distant land.

  • Even after dark it is warm enough to wander around with only a teeshirt on, it is such a luxury to be able to go without a coat and not feel cold

  • Cold baths and showers are good

  • Swimming is doubly good

  • The tube is so unbearable that nobody expects you to ride on it (I'm not going to dis it - its a marvellous mode of transport and I loved it until I had to commute using it everyday - I'd rather travel where I can see the world going by)

  • Colleagues treat you to ice creams or even more excitingly E number-rich popsicles/ice poles/ice pops - whatever you choose to call them from whichever part of the country you hail from - we had a long discussion about what the real name for these things were during a network breakdown on Monday. The memory of them is that you tear the plastic at the top end with your teeth to allow a small hole - suck the ice pole through this hole - largely you will suck the colour/flavour off the ice itself and be left with a tasteless ice block to crunch up afterwards OR you chew the ice and your hot hand melts the bottom so that you are left with a violently coloured liquid in the bottom of the empty plastic that requires great dexterity to drink without it spilling out the corners of you mouth and without cutting the corners of the mouth with the sharp plastic edges. AND your tongue goes blue - how great is that?

  • Thunder storms are really really dramatic.

The downside of the heat:
  • Your feet are always filthy at the end of the day.

  • Rubbish, dog poo, piss on the streets all stink much worse and don't get washed off by the rain.

  • Sweat builds up on the forehead and rolls down into your eyes - particularly when doing even slightly physical work in a very hot office.

  • Concentrating requires triple energy.

  • London doesn't have any seaside.

Monday's Life Class

Concentrate on FACES. I hate doing faces becuase it is so easy to make them look terrible. And it seems unfair to the life model to not do a good likeness (and it isn't possible to always do it - in fact it is mostly accidental in my case). So this week's model had quite a refined face with an arching nose but I have managed to make him look either sinister (according to my fellow students) or a blur. But at least the face is in.

Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.

During class I had a long conversation with another student about what I am drawing when I am doing life - where do I start and what is my interest. Its a hard question because lots of the time life drawing is just a tool to enable you to draw - there are defined ideals, ways to achieve them and theory behind it all. However mostly in these classes I am trying to achieve a sense of flesh and bones, weightiness or muscle structure. This is achieved through line drawing and building up shadow (where the skill of drawing is employed - use of charcoal and its ability to be a line of a multitude of thicknesses and to be a mass of shading dark and light, to be delicate and heavy). When drawing the figure I am interested in the way it moves - stretches, muscles, limbs - how do they twist, how do you make it look realistic. How do you draw the figure to make it look like the weight is on one hip, or leaning on the hand? How do you get the bulk of the figure, or the tone of the figure. I was suprised by the amount of things I am trying to achieve with one of these drawings. I had never been asked before so had never really thought about it.

Sunday, 10 August 2003

Stoke Newington

HS has just moved to Stokie - moved out from her boyfriend's to have some space of her own (possibly the beginning of the end, we await the final judgement). So Saturday night was testing out the delights of Church Street.

I used to go there alot when GS used to live there - lots of time spent in Abney Road Cemetary photographing overgrown gravestones, having poached eggs with welsh rarebit at the Aubergine of a morning, evenings at the Vortex Jazz Cafe listening to obscure bands (and sometimes not so obscure) and drinking cheap cocktails at Booths.

We started with a jug of Long Island Iced Tea at Booths and sat on the steps leading up to the flats upstairs. Didn't seem like much alcohol while we sat there. Reminded me that I always wanted a stoop to sit on outside my house - great to watch the world go by from the vantage of a stoop. Then we staggered along the road (realising that there really was alcohol in the Long Island Iced Tea after all) to Yum Yums Thai restaurant (just love Thai Green Curry and coconut rice). Then cos we finished eating late had one last drink in Bar Lorca. It was hot. Like a sauna. Lots of people dancing raunchily until their sweat showed on their teeshirts, faces dripping. We watched, too much to join in.

Coming out into the cooler air outside was great. Its been just like being on holiday (sun of Ibiza with the solid air of Los Angeles) apart from the fact that I haven't got a pool in the grounds where I'm living.
And the Heatwave Continues...

So my office is the hottest place to be on a hot summer's day and I can see out the window and its sunny outside and I was sweating into my chair, so I decided to take a day off on Friday. And lovely it was too. Sleep in, bathe, sit in the garden. In the evening take a stroll along the South Bank, have a drink at the National Theatre, be entertained by the free performances watching people lye around on the pretend grass drinking beer. SO much nicer than being trapped in an office with no air conditioning and still air, tied to a computer all day.

Saturday much the same - its so relaxing to not have to bustle about. Otherwise I would melt... literally.

Wednesday, 6 August 2003

Phew what a scorcher!
Has the tarmac melted yet?

Remember the summer of 76? My defining memory of that particular heatwave was the time we went as a family for a picnic to Regent's Park. Walking across the road on the way to the inner circle my mum's flip flops got stuck in the melted tarmac and broke (in those days there were only cheap flip flops - mostly used on the beach - remember the ones? flat sort of spongy stuff with plastic thong bits held onto the base by a circular thingy on the bottom - always came in red, green or blue - my dad came back from the USA with a fabulous pair which were thicker black spongy stuff with rainbow stripped material thongy bit!). The flat bit stayed glued to the road and the plastic thong bit was pulled through. I remember laughing but I can't remember what she did about walking around without shoes or whether she appreciated being the butt of a joke (probably not).

Mum's shoes are quite prominent in my memory of childhood - there was the time when my sister got spanked for being naughty and went off to find Mum's favourite suede sandshoes, and flushed one down the toilet (quite bold for a 3 year old I thought). She also had a great pair of navy blue high heels with lots of straps that she wore to go out in and at the end of the night she would have navy stripes on her feet (very amusing for a kid).

Tuesday, 5 August 2003

Old Wives Tales

Is there any truth in the one that says that touching a frog or a toad will give you warts? I found a toad, I think (not sure what the difference between them is), on the doormat outside our house yesterday. Our house seems to stand exactly in the path of frogs and toads going to their spawning ground because we are often overrun with them at particular times of year (i.e. now). So, anyway, I picked him up and took him out back, in my bare hand. Only now I'm worrying about the wart thing. It can't be true... And not half as scary as HS and I having to share the shower in Thailand with a toad who had a lovely big red line down his back (we could never be sure what was dangerous and what wasn't - it was only after I came back up the beach after snorkelling that we discovered that the snake with black silver bands that I had seen in the shallows was actually deadly - nothing like being well informed and prepared).
In the Kitchen

I personally didn't know it was a contest but I discovered today that men have control of the breadmakers, while women maintain control of blenders and mixers (The Guardian, 5 Aug 2003). They attribute the rise in sales of breadmakers to men because they are gadget-addicted.

What's it all about? Baking bread is traditionally a male industry (read that somewhere earlier as well)? Its easy for it to be a success? Small input big rewards? I'm thinking... Big Brother. Or maybe they are all capitalist bastards trying to sell their properties (smell of baking is supposed to draw on the base instincts of the prospective buyers and make them think it is a homely house because of it). They buy them for their partners (cos they want a domestic goddess / kitchen sink kind of partner - I only know one owner of a breadmaker and hers was a gift from her boyfriend).

I dunno, whatever. They're welcome to them - we've got the blenders and mixers. I mean, how much more useful are they?

And one last thing while we're on the subject of control over inanimate objects - the most intriguing one of all is the male preserve of the remote control. I am yet to meet a man, in a partnership or otherwise, who doesn't exert total domination of this device. Even my very own boyfiend, when visiting my house, watching my TV, has to have his hand on my remote control. Extraordinary. I think its the last basition of male pride, emaciated in every other way, he has to control whats on the box. Then again maybe its their short attention spans that require them to need to watch something else during the adverts (requiring a high degree of readiness for turning over) - or perhaps thats the fear of missing out on something good, or indeed the need to be in training for the channel hopping olympics. And woe betide the woman who takes it away - high degree of discomfort, fidgeting and neurosis will ensue, until its given back (I've tried it - both with my Dad and the boyfiend - its not just a case of being able to direct which channel button needs to be pressed). (Please don't feel battered boys, you know I'm only teasing ;-)).
Monday's Life Class

Back into the regular routine - 15minute pose, 4 minute poses, 2 minute poses, 30 second poses. 10 minute coffee break (following two students up the stairs - one to the other, "you having your usual?", reply, "yes please" - I thought they were going our direction to the cafe but on the top of the stairs they shot off across the road to the pub!). Two 30 minute poses to close the class.

Monday Night's art class is brought to you by the Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.

We went to eat nachos at the Elbow Room, some weird film was showing on the TV over the booth we were sitting in. For a few minutes we couldn't stop ourselves from being drawn to the screen. It was one of those times when you really weren't interested but were transfixed for some reason and couldn't draw your attention away.

There used to be a film like that always showing at the Great Eastern Dining Room basement bar - it was a horrible film, cringe-making, but the whole time I was down there I couldn't stop myself watching it, over and over and over - a man had hooks inserted into his skin, all over his back and front, when they were all hooked in he was attached to some kind of cable through every hook, he was then suspended by his own skin over the skyline of New York on a crane. This was the work of performance artist Stelarc. He was in The Guardian on the weekend because he wants to implant an ear into his arm. WHY? He won't be able to hear through it. M said perhaps to beat the mouse (poor mouse who had an ear implanted on his back). Since the ear was going to have to perform some other function than hearing we thought it would be good if he put pigs ears onto his shoulders - could be like epaulets or shoulder pads that could wiggle at you, or even better - elephant's ears would be implanted on his back like wings - he could flap them by expanding his chest!

Not sure what to make of his art. Or the work of the other body canvas - Orlan. But then I'm not sure what to make of all the people who have cosmetic surgery - breast augmentation, cheek bone implants, pectoral implants, nose jobs. They don't look natural anymore - quite robotic, or alien and very strange.

Saturday, 2 August 2003

The Royal Wedding

And finally the day of the wedding of the year arrived. Those of us invited from the office had spent two days discussing how we were going to get there and back, who was driving who wasn't, how long we may stay etc etc - cabs from the office there and back was the final decision.

Having been invited to the evening party part, we missed the ceremony and the reception dinner and the speeches (not sure that was a bad thing - especially since we didn't know the families at all). We were sober, those who had been at the wedding breakfast were plastered.

The groom was Scottish, all the men on his side were wearing kilts. Those who were ushers / bestmen / fathers of the groom were wearing one particular tartan. These kilts had been ordered from a hire company in Glasgow with jackets and sporrens and socks. They had arrived two days prior to the day - one man's kilt was far too short, or he was too tall (he was very tall) for it - there hadn't been enough time to get a better fitting one. His knees were showing. His socks only came halfway up his calfs.

The hired sporrens were made of faux fur.

The groom's mother and father couldn't be in the same room together without fighting (bad d.i.v.o.r.c.e).

Two unfortunate women had turned up wearing the same mauve swirly patterned dress (horror!). The colour of choice for the women was pale pink or mauve. The cut was either spagetti strap shift dress with ruffles, or two piece with a top made out of a square of fabric - backless tied at the waist and neck (can't wear a bra with this number - many were large chested girls - the evening concluded with dancing).

The most popular song of the evening (one that got the most people onto the dance floor) was ten thousand miles by the Proclaimers. On the hen night the girls had carried a blow-up doll around Bath with them nicknamed charlie. Charlie was present towards the end of the evening, many aging women took great pleasure in dancing with Charlie - sometimes with a great deal of effort put in. Lots of auntie and uncle dancing - not really in time, no rhythm.

The bouquet was thrown and a scrummage ensued. It was sailing directly for DS, she had her hands out and it was definitely coming her way, when a middle aged woman launched herself in a rugby tackle and intercepted just before it landed and then held it aloft proud in the knowledge that she had just scuppered an opportunity for a youngster to be next (the vicar of dibley came to JJ's mind).

We stayed until 12.30 because there had been much panic about the ability to get a cab - Robbie Williams was in concert in the vacinity and all the cab companies were in attendance there. And I just kept asking myself - is there really any point in the whole marriage thing these days?

Friday, 1 August 2003


I have been starved of a local pub or bar that comes anywhere close to being the kind of place I actively want to hang out in. Considering Harringay (the area as opposed to the borough, hence the spelling) has been a desirable residence for lefties, students and first time buyers amongst the recently arrived communities there are sadly few bars anywhere near that were worth a stroll to. This has meant taking the bus to somewhere else - or walking over to Stroud Green Road.

There are plenty of pubs in my vacinity but they just haven't cut the mustard: The Beaconsfield (football on large screens, hasn't been refurbed in an age, old men), Ye Olde Ale Emporium (formerly something else - perhaps the White Lion of Mortimer can't quite remember and before that a used-car sales lot - students, local people, heavy smokers, crowded cos its small, dogs), The Suffolk Punch (Weatherspoons - no music, lots of elderly alcholics - currently closed), The Old Queens Head (used to be very run down but had lots of pool tables frequented by punks and crusties and all the local riff raff - my sister met her husband there a decade ago, however they've rennovated and I have to say it was MILES better before), and then there was The Salisbury (reputation for being dangerous, was scruffy, full of old blokes and I was only dragged in there to watch morning premiership football matches on Sats or Suns by the Boyfiend).

However, the Salisbury has been given a face lift and it doing an excellent impression of a desirable hang out - lots of room, wooden floors, back room with sofas, Sunday chilled funky thing and comedy on a Thursday night. All hail the Salisbury - if you live anywhere near Harringay Green Lanes drop in - it needs clientele to keep alive and stop the rot setting back in.