Thursday, 30 October 2003

NaNoWriMo is Nearly HERE

I pursuaded my mate JD to join in the NaNoWriMo moment and he's been on the phone today panicking cos he has writer's block and it hasn't even started yet! What have I done?
Evening Bus Journey

Somewhere between Highbury Boy's School and Highbury Barn a man got on the 19 bus and sat on one of the bench seats. Just outside the pub with that funny scicillian-looking wall thing he started singing somewhere over the rainbow in a quietish voice. He then launched into a monologue about where over the rainbow was - he lived in Finsbury Park but that certainly wasn't over the rainbow unless you lived above a certain ex-music venue (much pleased with his play on words/history he repeated it several times). Launched into more over the rainbow - this time loudly. School boys got on. Sat opposite him. Started taking the piss. He sang louder. They joined in. Then came a round of ARSENAL FOREVER. They shouted. He shouted arsenal forever, forever arsenal, arsenal forever forever arsenalarsenalforeverforeverarsenal. Until his face was puffed out red and tortured looking and he was jumping up and down in his seat leaning towards the boys. Then he had a question, "d'you know what BOY spells backwards? Do you do you?". One of the boys replies, "YOB". "Yeah, BOY spells YOB backwards, what future do we have?".
Morning Bus Journey

Travelling on the 390 bus down York Way towards Kings Cross. As the bus passed the canal 2 swans had decided to fly over the the bridge. There was a railing fence which the first swan flew over and the second swan hit, fell back and died. Crushingly sad.

Tuesday, 28 October 2003

Monday's Life Class

Was sacrificed in order to see Mariza play the Royal Festival Hall as part of her Fado Curvo Tour.

And it was fantastic.

Monday, 27 October 2003

Itchy and Scratchy

On the bus on the way to the south bank today I was surrounded at every point by itchy people. You know the sort - not literally scratching but fidgety, unable to stand still. In constant motion like a frustrated big cat trapped in the zoo. Pacing. Riggling in their seat. They were at Finsbury Park while I waited for the 19 or 4. There was a woman like it on the 19 when it eventually came. There were more at the bus stop at Angel waiting for the 341 or 4. One standing almost directly behind me who had to smoke, then stand in the road to see if the bus was coming, then stand back on the pavement, then pace around, then stand in the road again. Just standing next to him was making me jumpy.

Sunday, 26 October 2003

Pie & Mash Shop After Closing

Bails, HS and I went to pick up M on the way to the pub. He was working in the Pie & Mash shop when we arrived. Weird to be inside when nobody is there.

And on the wall just inside the kitchen doors was a list of jobs to do each day of the week on a hand written notice.

While I was taking photographs bails was reading them out in a steady voice right to the bottom:

Floor, mirrors, wipe shop front over and sweep, fill salt & vinegar
Clean leaves on plant, chang over salt & peppers, wipe shop front down
Wipe shop front over, water plants, wash vinigar bottles out, clean top walls
Wipe shop front over, shelves behind counter, clean bottom walls
Polish benches, clean toilets, clean cups, shop front, stock room, fridge, change over salt & pepper, clean out pots on counter, shelves behind counter, (and added later by at the bottom) wank DEAN OFF! -- no thanks, ps And Charles -- get a life, u know u want us!, no we don't.
Inside London Flash Mob ##4
Global Flash Mob

This was the world's first global flashmob with mobbers participating in a multitude of cities around the world. I don't know what they were doing in all the other cities but our explicit instructions were delivered in advance. We were to be in Covent Garden Piazza at the Russel Street end, not later than 10 past 2 milling around acting casual.

Then at quarter past we had to walk briskly in a clockwise direction around the piazza (fortunately HS accompanied me because I always have a hell of a job figuring out which direction that is, and my brain seems to automatically work counter-clockwise).

There was to be no running but it was important to keep up with the mobber in front. As we passed each corner we were to greet other mobbers with a jaunty "Hello, I'm pleased to meet you!", or alternatively you could say the same in Spanish, French, Polish, Italian, Mandarin, Korean or Russian - all helpfully supplied with the phonetic pronunciation. HS and I desperately tried to swot up on the bus on the way to the rendevous but being hopeless at learning languages I was lucky to learn the word for hello (most of the European ones I knew already) in some of them. So I tried to combine I'm pleased to meet you with a different hello at each corner. Someone decided to shake hands and that seemed like a good way to complete the greeting.

In ten minutes we managed to get almost twice round the piazza. I tried to walk at different paces to the mobbers around me so I wasn't saying hello to the same people all the time. Reporters and photgraphers ran round like mad things. One reporter with a cameraman demanded I restage one of the greetings, which felt a little pointless and a bbc london reporter asked for an interview which went something like: tell me what you are doing here, why have you given up your time today, haven't you got anything better to do with your time?

HS over heard a tourist from out of town saying, what are all these people doing, oh they must be tourists. And a man in a superman outfit had started to get rather excited by the number of people fast approaching his show only to be disappointed when they marched on by.

So Global Flash Mob was rather less exciting than the other two I have attended. Something to do with the fact that there seemed to be fewer participants, they were strung out over a massive area and therefore didn't seem to be able to make the same impact as before and there were fewer opportunities for interaction with other mobbers therefore making people shy of following the instructions (not many people greeted me and the corners were not noisy with the racket of people greeting one another). And Covent Garden is already crowded with people so much so that the mob crowd was barely visible. We cheered, clapped, jumped up and down and left without turning back.

And so in comtemplation of what the reporter asked me, because I doubt my on-the-spot answers were terribly informative, I think the answers are: I was taking part in a global event of flashmobbing, greeting strangers in a freindly manner in other languages if possible; I enjoy the idea of being part of a 'happening' or performance art (something we don't have much opportunity to do), the previous ones have been great fun for a very short amount of time; since the event only lasts 10 minutes and I would generally be in the West End anyway it is relatively little time to give up or waste really.

Read diamond geezer's report.
Read reports of New York's Flash Mobs by Satan's Laundromat (it started here).

Saturday, 25 October 2003

Friday Night Party

M invited us to the birthday party of a girl he was a college with. It was at the Hat on the Wall - this is a small bar in a studios in Hatton Wall (geddit?). M trained as a jeweller and those people present who he knew were also jewellers. He had a trying time explaining what he was doing now (college chums always want to know this - its a sort of status thing - those who are still doing it can feel good because they haven't sold out yet).

It was one of those parties where there were insiders and outsiders. Those of us that were not still active in the craft industry, did not have a studio, or did not have a studio in these particular studios were the outsiders. Those that did have a studio in these particular studios and therefore were still active in the craft industry were the insiders. Mutual consent was given by the insiders to include the designer/makers from a studios across the road as insiders which meant that there were a large number of people who knew each other and could spaff about their work, their studio strife, their ability to make any money and gossip about the jewellery craft world.

The insiders were identifiable by their practised whackiness - a plethera of eighties style stripped batwing jumpers, asymmetrical haircuts, military style jackets, dirty trainers, own-make jewellery being worn, tattoos and peircings. The birthday girl had a red shirt on unbuttoned down to below her bust line allowing ample bussom to protrude. In the darkened gloom I was looking at a man who had the weirdest eyes - he looked like he was from outer space or something, it was only on second or third look that I realised that he was blacked up which was why he looked so weird and then I couldn't understand what on earth he was doing or why. Then when I went to the toilet I flung open the door only to realise, after I had exposed him totally, that there was a man inside having a pee who had not locked the door. While waiting for him to come out I met a man who had a patch of white eyelashes in one eye.

I was an outsider. Although I trained in three-dimensional design (metals) it has been a long time since I owned a studio or did any of that kind of work. It was a sad day when I threw in the towel and decided that finally I wasn't going to make any work anymore because I had gotten a full time job (huge sense of failure). But now that I am where I am in my life I am glad I don't live in this semi-never-left-college type of world. So as an outsider I am able to enjoy the music and atmosphere while still being removed from the undercurrent of competativeness that runs within the tight knit designer/maker/craft world.

Friday, 24 October 2003

Concorde RIP

For some reason it remained the most exciting plane to see. I remember when it first flew in the 70s. It was always a thrill to see it - remarkable and unmistakable shape and sound. I most regularly saw it passing at 5.25 over St John's railway station when I was working at Lewisham College. It was one of those sights that never became common place and always required you to lean your head back and sheild your eyes for a long lasting look until it disappeared.

And sadly flying in it will be added to my list of promised trips which will never come to be - alongside eating at the revolving restuarant in the Post Office Tower (my mum promised to take me when I got to be 5, but it was closed to the public before that day arrived).

Thursday, 23 October 2003


There's been a spate of burglaries in our area recently, according to the police. First we noticed was when they did our house - busted open the kitchen window with a crowbar, carefully took the blue bottles and vase off the ledge of the window and placed them neatly on the ground outside, crawled in and stole money. Then next door was done - they cut a wooden panel out of the back door, took the LPs off the shelf inside the door and crawled in through the space left and stole music equipment.

We had the police round. They came on Sunday morning (not a good time), I was called out of bed to come and give fingerprints. I just about managed to put on a dressing gown, hair was all over the place (really literally), didn't have time to brush my teeth (moss mouth, tried hard not to talk to anyone). Policeman was in plain clothes and chewing gum. He was being jolly and light. I was a zombie. I did manage to do the fingerprinting right though - roll the finger across the ink thing and do one roll from left to right onto the card strip.

Anyway when the crime prevention police came round to advise on what to do they said that there had been many in our area and they thought it must all be the same person. Later on we heard they got him but he was coming out on bail.

So I'm sitting here doing a one-word 60 second writing thing and a cop van comes tearing down my road with its siren going. Stops suddenly all the cops jump out and run up the road after someone. Another van arrives and a police car comes steaming up the other direction. They are all running about in their bullet proof vests. Nobody else is out in the street at all. They come back down the road holding a young man with his arm behind his back and put him in the back of the van. And off they go. You'd never know they had been there.

These things always make me want to know the end of the story - it feels unfinished. I need a nice tidy ending like on The Bill or something.

Wednesday, 22 October 2003

Carry On Meeting

I had a meeting today with an inspirational speaker who my old boss had introduced to me a year ago when we were maybe going to develop a course for unemployed people encouraging them to get back into the job market.

On arrival said speaker engaged in some pleasantries with me.
"Hello, Harriet," american drawl, "you are looking so beautiful," hand outstretched for a shake, I put my hand in his to shake back and he leaned in to kiss my cheek (have to say this is most unusual and quite forward for people I generally meet).
"Oh, your hands are cold," I replied, shocked at the icy touch (mental note - have to not comment on the texture or feel of a handshake in future)
"But I have a warm heart," came the retort. At which we went downstairs to the meeting room. Little did I realise that colleagues around me who heard this collapsed in laughter at the innuendo and the corniness (sadly it hadn't even crossed my mind, doh). By the time I got back this snippet of dialogue had been transformed into a carry on film.

I can picture it all now, with a cast of Sid James (cold hands, warm heart, going for an extra feel during the handshake with the free hand), meeting with Babs Windsor (in an ill fitting skirt suit with a lot of cleavage showing, complaining of the cold hands), all overheard by an outraged Kenneth Williams (in the ooo matron vain of acting).

"Didn't bare thinking about what was going on downstairs with an opening script like that!", "even Al Green couldn't get away with a corny line like that!" (I'm spending the rest of the day being ribbed and rather pink in the cheeks methinks.) sigh.
NaNoWriMo is Coming!

Oh My God, ohmigad ohmigad! So its gonna be halloween and then its gonna start. Daisy suggested it and then, then I thought it was a good idea. 50,000 words. Gulp. Fear. Thats 5 times longer than my dissertation - and that took a year. Pales. Fear. Written in ONE MONTH.

Tuesday, 21 October 2003

Seen on TV

I don't watch much TV because I find it doesn't keep me occupied (my need to be in constant motion makes it very difficult to sit down and watch it). However, I have it on mostly when I'm not concentrating fully on it. I like to watch Breakfast on BBC1 in the morning. Recently (in direct ratio to the level of tiredness I am achieving) I have still been at home when it finishes and Kilroy starts.

This is the absolute dividing line between morning/early morning TV and daytime TV. Having to watch daytime TV is like being tortured.

Today Kilroy was talking about my mum hates my partner, recently he has also talked about i don't talk to my brother and, i haven't seen my mum for ** number of years and any number of other provocative subject matters. I couldn't stand listening to another minute so I flicked onto ITV to see the scottish woman waxing lyrical with a volunteer and a beauty consultant about a better bottom without surgery treatment (some kind of sucky thing is massaged all over your arse twice weekly for 7 weeks at a cost of £40 a session and then subsequently once a month for the rest of the time you want a great arse). Couldn't really handle that either, so there was Trisha (poor girls british Jerry Springer without the physical fighting) and kids TV.

I suspect its supposed to make you rush out and go to work (which it did). [oh and I've just spell checked this post and its suggesting I should replace Kilroy with killer...]

Monday, 20 October 2003

Monday's Life Class

On the way to life drawing the traffic was terrible along upper street, result of a burst water main or something earlier in the day, all the buses were on diversion. Despite this I was still early. But my neck has been tired - stiff and tense the last few days and standing at the easle was proving to be aggrevating for it. So I'm blaming the lack of decent drawings (and these are better than the rest) on my crying out for a holiday body and the fact that I had a couple of pretty good weeks prior to this (can't have it good all the time after all - or at least thats what I keep telling myself).

I don't know where this slant to the composition thing has come from but I've done that a couple of times now. I quite like it in individual drawings but this week with only two worth showing it looks like a theme developing - themes must be quashed!

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.
Tonight I have mostly been...

Tonight I have mostly been watching the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Hummm...(read what I thought here - and if this doesn't work look at seen on the left hand bar). Before going to the film I just couldn't get the League of Gentlemen out of my head, somehow expected it to be more like that. Doh.

And I have typed the word gentlemen many times this evening so far and every single time I do it I add a t on the end. Why am I doing that?

Sunday, 19 October 2003

The Weather Project @ Tate Modern

The last two days I have been to see Olafur Eliasson's installation in the turbine hall of the Tate Modern.

Something about the sun makes people sit or lye down and worship it even though it isn't real. As they move towards it they have to sheild their eyes against the glare. The misty air makes the shine physical in the space. People walking towards the light look like aliens on a far away planet, reminiscent of the end sequence in Close Encounters of the Third Kind - misty creatures back lit by an orb. Can't quite tell if they are human or spacemen.

And then you start to look at the way it is all constructed. Bright lights behind a screen creating the sun. Only half the sphere is there. A ceiling of mirrors have been placed the full length of the turbine hall - making the space seem larger than usual. The half sphere appears to be whole becuase of the mirror. You see the entire space, including the mirror image space as one huge room.

And then you start to look at the reflections. All the sunworshippers are reflected back at themselves in the mirrored ceiling. Some are transfixed by their own image and what they look like far far away up there. They start to wave and do star jumps lying down. Three young men yesterday put on a whole performance of running chases, back spins, swimming, sliding movements. For their own amusement and anyone else who was watching's. Today people mostly looked at themselves. One group made a star and opened and closed their legs like a 30s dance sequence in a film - synchronised swimming without the water.

Eerie. Weird. And wonderful.

See also:
Fiachra Gibbons
Adrian Searle

Thursday, 16 October 2003

Thursday Afternoon TOIL

TOIL (short for Time Off In Lieu) is always funny to me because when you are taking it you are not labouring hard at all. We're allowed to build up up to 7 hours a month and take the equivalent of 1 day off. Which I don't normally do - I build up the time and then carry it forward. So this month I decided I'm going to make a concerted effort to take it.

Today was the day. I took an afternoon during which the boyfiend and I decided we would go to the movies. We didn't really care what we went to see just as long as it was during the time we should have been at work. Its something about the whole thing that you're supposed to be somewhere else that makes it feel naughty and therefore so much better than when you go normally. So we bought tickets for Bright Young Things which passed the time admirably.

On the way out the boyfiend had to go to the toilet which was at the end of a corridor of other screens (huge maze of a multiplex in Wood Green - quite bearable at that time of day during the week and practically empty). Over the doors of the other screens it told you the start time in dot matrix. One film's programme had started about 10 minutes before and just because nobody was looking and we were feeling naughty we popped our heads round the door and found that the film was just beginning - the opening credits were rolling. So we sauntered in and sat down. We were only going to stay for a while... but it caught us so we stayed for the whole film and although Down With Love wouldn't have been something I would have actively chosen it was really quite good (and probably much better for being free).

Wednesday, 15 October 2003

Bonfire Night is Coming!

First two fireworks were let off somewhere north of Finsbury Park this evening. After the dark fell an explosion and a shower of green lights (not terribly impressive but exciting none the less due to significance). And the choices, where to watch a display this year?
The World is Round

There are days like today when you look out the window and the clouds are trailing off into the distance in a formation that makes you aware of the fact that the world is round. And then a lone plane sails across the sky, at a pace that is by all means jetspeed but because of the distance away it looks kind of sedate and leisurely. And despite the fact that it is getting more bitter outside the sun is shining and the sky is blue and it lulls you into thinking about far away places and how nice it would be...

At the pinacle of great stress earlier my holiday friend told me to think about swimming off the white sandy beach in Ko Hai under a tree that hung over the ocean, looking at the fishes on the coral reef. And it worked - I had a great meeting with the coordinators that wasn't stressful at all.

Was largely thinking about that beach though - palm trees hanging tall over the back of the beach, not a soul for ages, getting very hot in the morning sun and then strolling back to the hotel for egg fried rice with pineapple. And then back for another long laze later in the afternoon. We had been talking about how the hot weather and all the lying around in the sand and sea makes you horny. And we caught sight of a man on an epic swim - mid afternoon sun beating down on him. When he saw us he came out of the water all six foot stocky canadian asking if either of us ladies had a spare spot of suntan cream because his bald spot was getting burned. Of course we did, and after a few pleasantries about where we had been and where we were going he set off back swimming along the coast to the other hotel with a parting, you're lovely. We tittered (it was about as energetic as it was possible to be in the heat) and I continued reading the Dirty Havana Trilogy and HS lay down in the sand.

Incidentally I have to this day not been able to finish reading the Dirty Havana Trilogy because it became too seedy to finish - there's only so much you can take of sex in filthy sheets with homeless girls from the streets of Cuba with rotting milk on the counter. And the front section of the book dropped out when the heat melted the glue that held it together. There are few books that I don't finish the only other one recently being American Psycho - it was a commuter read and I had to stop because I was embarrassed in case anyone was reading the filth over my shoulder on the tube in the morning. A bit too extreme in the rush hour.

And the sunsets have been amazing - all pink criss corssing clouds sharp like live-edge perspex, ending when the sunglow is barely visible on he horizon and the sky gradually darkens towards it.

Tuesday, 14 October 2003

Monday's Life Class

So Ann decided that we would draw darker more dramatic shadows if she turned some of the studio lights off. She had to get up a step ladder to do this. She moved one of the more precarious easles, held together with a piece of rope and it fell over. The carefully hung white jacket that had been on the back of it fell directly onto a drawing and a cloud of charcoal dust fell on top of it. Fortunately owner of said jacket was very laid back about it. He ended up with charcoal all over his face to match his jacket. "It would be good if you could keep the floor a bit tidy, since we don't have a cleaner," Ann said hopefully at the end of the class as I looked around under my feet at the fragments of charcoal stick crushed under foot and walked all round. Perhaps she should have mentioned it at the beginning of class.

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.