Monday, 30 June 2003

BS by BS Monday Morning

Fundamental differences in language between the Brits and the Americans mean we will always be talking a different language. When they call their bum their fanny, their trousers pants and bodywarmers vests (as a starting point) is it any wonder we have problems understanding each other?

Saturday, 28 June 2003

Things that Harriet Did

This afternoon I mostly queued outside Birkenstock shoe shop in Neal Street (well for a good half an hour anyway) in order to buy some sandals. Shouting out to the chap in front who was buying shoes for his 3 year old daughter and the couple behind in search of pink open toes. Hope you love your purchases as much as I do. However, I am concerned about this reintroduction of the queuing thing in London - we used to queue for buses (in the 70s) and still do if you are outside Canon Street Thameslink or at the W7 bus stop in Finsbury Park - but we now queue to get into pubs. I once swore I'd never be so sad as to queue to get into a bar and I now find myself queueing to get into a SHOE SHOP!! The chap in front and I were trying to be inconspicuous in a queue that was the centre of much indignant staring from the passing crowd, as you could imagine.
Lake District Relatives

I think I had a passing comment about having tea but not being able to sit back on the sofa for fear of denting it, at which point they extracted a story about my relatives in the Lake District from me.

My mother used to take my sister and me up to the Highlands of Scotland every half term, summer and easter holiday to visit her parents. It was a very long drive and on route we would stay with her Auntie Lizzie in Ulverston.

Auntie Lizzie was very ancient. I can't recall her husbands name (he died when I was very young) -- my only recollection of him was sitting in his armchair by the fire with a broken ankle in a cast drinking tea out of the saucer. Auntie Lizzie lived in a house with a black door that had an oval window in it at the top, her front garden had a steep slope and concrete steps with an old persons tubular handrail. When we stayed here we usually had to do a tour of the relatives living in the vicinity.

Cousin Betty lived on a farm, died her hair black and wore a black bra under a lemon yellow twinset. Her bussom was enormous and encased in an industrial strength brassiere - everything pointed outwards and in total control. She clattered around the farmyard in black stillettos, calfs clenched. She held the speed record for making sandwiches - this was a twice daily activity for the farmhands' breaks - she could butter a whole sliced white loaf with one knifeful of margarine in twenty seconds and slice tomatoes so they were see-through (the trick was to dampen the bread but only just).

Then we would pop in on Cousin John and Margerie's farm and would have to listen to the competitive bitching (much rivalry between the two). She once showed us round her eldest son's new farmhouse (wedding present from them) that they'd built a silage pit right next to so the winter feeding would be very convenient (just drive the cows right up into it) - not sure how the smell would be in the summer, however.

Then we would visit Great Auntie Winnie's - huge old house in an orchard - and look at the apples in the attic.

And finally if we were really unlucky we'd have tea with Great Auntie Dorothy (don't know why but I can't remember any of these women's husbands). They lived in an old peoples estate, new build bungalows, characterless houses and gardens with grass and paving stones that were mowed for them. There was nothing to do but sit very still on the perfect settee without leaning back so as not to dent it. She had anti-macassars on all the chairs and protective arm-coverings. She would bring tea in china cups and saucers out to the sitting room on a tray with brass detail around the raised edge and handles on two sides. She walked very slowly and everything on the tray would rattle in that china teacup way. We would all sit round the coffee table talking, a little. Her husband slurping at his tea. Eventually it would seem that hours had passed and every tick of the carriage clock sitting on the mantlepiece would hit you on the head. With every passing 5 minutes you lost a day of your life. And the only animated thing in the whole house were the four balls twisting back and forth on the pendulum of that clock...

It was always such a relief to get back to Auntie Lizzie's so we could use her eiderdown quilts to slide down the stairs (sit on the top step, at the end of the quilt, fold it over your feet, hold both corners and launch yourself over the edge). She always chastised my mother for not getting us a house with stairs in it.
JD's House

HS and I popped in on JD after we'd eaten, he lives in a studio flat in a huge house with multitude of others, many of them nutters by the sound of it. He'd lost his soul to the launderette on a Friday evening (criminal) so wouldn't come out for a drink. Recent occurences in bedsit land have been: crazy woman with the scotty dog upstairs stopped shouting suddenly and after a week of being very quiet was discovered to have died; and drunkard next door had been on a binge and fallen asleep while smoking setting the place on fire (properly on fire - fire engines, smoke filled rooms) - later he was evicted - new neighbour wears madman trousers (too short - when standing too much sock shows). All of which leads to hermit-like behaviour.
Friday Night in Muswell Hill

The haircut of choice in The Village, Muswell Hill, was that one where you look like your hair has been growing in the direction of the prevailing wind - it is close to the forehead and the spikes get taller the further back you get. Other popular choices were asymmetrical ridges of sticky up hair and just got out of bed messy. Lots of grease and ultra strong gel necessary. High maintenance boys looking to pull. We went there early for a cheap cocktail, but its the kind of place that requires four bouncers for the degree of intimidation necessary even on a Friday evening at 7.00pm when the place is half empty. Average age - younger than us, average dress - returned from Ibiza holiday great tan backless tops, stiletto backbreaker heels. Don't really know WHAT we were doing there.

Friday, 27 June 2003


Its the end of the week - waited for a bus to take me to a meeting in Archway for 30 mintues, consequently I was late, didn't have the number of the person I was meeting with (absolutely the WORST planning), nobody in my office was in at 9.50 to give me the number. However since it wasn't a high powered meeting once I had arrived and overcome the fear-of-being-late-thing (always the thought is worse than the actuality - in my field of work anyway) everything seemed to be ok.

On getting back to my office discovered (in the frighteningly mirrored lift) that I was also having a bad hair day - probably due to rushing out of the house with damp hair and running hand through it angrily waiting for the bus - wild untamable hair needs not to be ruffled when wet (causes it to curl and be flat in weird places).

So its hardly even lunchtime and I'm thinking about how nice it would be to have a cocktail on the roof terrace of the Fuel Bar in Covent Garden, watch the street performers and wave at the Punch & Judy clientele crammed onto their balcony. Sigh.

Wednesday, 25 June 2003

A Day Trip to London

The boyfiend and I had a day off yesterday and went on a jolly round the Thames like tourists. The day was loverly and we took a circular boat trip from Embankment to St Katherine's Pier. Had lunch in St Katherine's Dock, pretended we were on the French Riviera looking out over the marina at the yachts.

Circular cruises are run by a right motley bunch of cockneys who have prepared some tourist guide spiel on the way back (don't actually think all the tourists could understand them but it was interesting enough for those atuned to the accent, even though it wasn't much more than - this is... and this is....). But we got a huge discount because we were londoners (I think thats why) and you could travel around the route as many times as you liked (all day if you pleased although they weren't advertising this fact). Oh and it was hot, so it reminded me of all the island hopping boat journeys I did in Thailand with HS. Longing to be somewhere, away from work for longer than a day.

I didn't know it but Hankyman still exists - its remarkable to me that in most other countries folks invented some kind of headgear with a large brim made out of straw or something but we just made use of our hankies. I've never seen this version before -- although you can't tell from the picture he was using the 3-knot, as opposed to the more regular 4-knot style. The advantage of the 3-knot is that you can fold back the fourth corner in such as way as to give yourself a small visor (apart from when the wind blows it back over your eye).

I wonder what other uses are there for hankies apart from blowing one's nose and decorating one's breast pocket?

Monday, 23 June 2003

Monday's Life Class

The usual room we draw in is in the basement - it was flooded some how this week and was under 2 inches of water. So instead we were using the banqueting room. Candid Arts has all sorts of space - the cafe is great, then we had to go out the back way onto the fire escape, past the toilet with an on-suite bath into a room with plush curtains and candlesticks. So, the theme (the sessions seem to always carry a theme these days) was to get some of the room in because it was very atmostpheric and the light was very dramatic.

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 78374237.

Sunday, 22 June 2003

Getting the Best Out of Your Photograph Booth Picture

So the girls and I were having a pizza (bails and HS) and somehow came to be discussing the dreaded photograph booth photo (photocards for travel, passport pictures, student applications to uni, gym membership cards etc).

I have managed to keep the same photocard since I was 18 - which they both thought was anal to begin with, but also felt that the picture in it was good due to its youthfulness (they know how I feel about being over 30, sob). I was begging to differ because I knew it was good because it had been carefully orchestrated to be good (personnally I feel very certain that you can't leave these things to chance if you want to have a decent photo -- which I do -- because you may be stuck with it for a damn long time -- passport comes to mind). So when I need a photo from a photograph booth I do not want to fall into it with no preparation because I will not be happy to look half asleep, with my eyes closed and a big zit on my nose (far far far too vain for that, I have actually done the photos all over again if none of the four were up to scratch -- yes yes I know I'm beginning to sound freakish).

The girls thought I could sell pamphlets to students about this (I know they were taking the piss). So, in the interests of public imformation I present to you:

Harriet's Tips for Top Passport Photos
OR - Harriet's Top Tips for Passport Photos

  • Be prepared -- never do this on the spur of the moment. Always plan to use a photobooth, always do it first thing in the morning - preferably the first thing you do after leaving the house. You need to be clean, bright, non-sweaty, and if you are female recently made-up (make-up is fantastic for smoothing out the skin - very imporant in a photo - the camera never lies).

  • Think about your neckline -- if you are wearing a heavy coat, bulky scarf, thick polo-neck sweater take them off. Its good to see some skin, girls.

  • The background -- in the old fashioned machines you had a choice of three backgrounds - orange or blue curtain, or white background. White background may make you look washed out or very dark (depending on your skin tone), if choosing the curtain think about the best colour ranges for you (colour theory - bet you didn't think this came into a passport photo did you?). If you opt for a curtain go with orange if you are a reds person or the blue if you are a greens/blues person. You will have to cope with the fact that there will be pleats all down the background. I have in the past brought a backing cloth of my own - I used to use a red chiffon scarf to tie up against the white background - highly preferable although highly anal.

  • The stool -- you need to position yourself so that your whole head and shoulders are in the frame - you may need to wind the stool up or down - keep trying the level, you may need to wind it for a while. Always sit forward on the stool, never lean back against the booth, always sit up straight. Tilt your chin slightly downwards. Be aware of your double chins.

  • Your face -- compose yourself - smile but make sure it is realistic, twinkle your eyes, show some teeth if you feel it is appropriate. Look slightly off centre of the frame - you don't want to be staring into the flash because you will look shocked. Always opt for four individual shots if possible so that you can choose the best of the four. Inbetween shots recompose yourself in order to not look forced.

  • Instructions -- like with exams - read all the instructions before you put the money in - you don't want to be caught unawares.

  • Get to know your photobooth -- if you had a particularly good result from one photobooth, use it again - they are not all the same.

With these simple instructions your photobooth pictures should dramatically improve, so you don't have to live with those drunkard, shocked, eyes-half-closed, mouth open shots for the rest of your life.

So after all this discussion they still challenged me to come up with a recent photo which is as smiling and happy as my 18 year old photocard picture - damn it I'll have to prove it. I'll keep you posted of the relative success.

Oh and I'd also like to share with you a history of my passport pictures up until about age 24 (real job - had to dispense with pink hair) and although you may think I look like a freakshow, some of the photographs aren't too bad for a photobooth - apologies the quality of these images is poor cos I photo'ed them from an album.

Saturday, 21 June 2003

He's Hot!

So picture the scenario, you work outside all day, the sun is beating down, you forgot to bring your suntan cream. Later meeting the boys for lots of beers. Your neck is burning, your clothes are abrasive against the raw skin. Once you've had a skinful you'll get really sick - mixture of the alcohol and the sunstroke. But Mate, it was a great night though, wasn't it?!

It looks so classy, the typical British tan - Friday was so hot, saw lots like him but none quite so good.

Thursday, 19 June 2003

Keys to Female Attraction

While the majority of men will loosely divide themselves into breast, leg or large-lady men (and I'm excluding the gay fraternity here, and making sweeping generalisations to boot, so forgive me if I offend you), the keys to female attraction to men can be muscles or height but are equally likely to be down to the strangest things. HS was telling me about how crows feet and smiley eyes really did it for her, even if the man wasn't particularly good looking being in possession of these two great features could overcome a host of other disappointments. I, on the other hand, have a thing for eyebrows - not great bushy ones but smooth, well shaped (natural) ones, and, good teeth. Conversely bad teeth can be a total turn off even if the man is drop-dead gorgeous.

I want to go back to the natural thing for a moment - while high maintenance women really do it for some men and others prefer the low maintenance variety, most women I know prefer men to appear low maintenance even if it takes high to achieve it. We don't want to talk about face creams and washing routines with our boyfriends or friend's boyfriends. Bails once had a man who instructed her on the correct use of clinique products and had a larger washbag than she did - if you can imagine.

Which brings me to my final point (and this is probably a reflection on me and the type of men I have known - I have heard stories from friends about men who didn't visit the bathroom at all for two weeks apart from to pee but I've never had the misfortune to meet one) - men are generally vainer than women. The boyfiend always takes longer in the bathroom than me, even though I wear a considerable amount of makeup and have long unmanageable hair that requires taming, and he has a practically shaven head and doesn't wear any makeup at all.
I'd rather be anywhere else but here

My boredom threshold has crashed. It seems to be inversely proportional to the good summer weather. Its also a crucial time - a year and a half into a job - the challenge has smoothed out because the systems introduced have bedded down and the chaos has cleared up somewhat. I've reached a plateau where I'm waiting for the next struggle to rear its ugly head. And the unresolved problems are so slow burning that their lifespan makes them feel unresolveable.

I want to make shoes! Have an Emporium d'Harriet. Write books. Live on holiday. Lay in the sun. Have sex all day (boredom does this to me - my mind wanders). Live by my natural sleep patterns. To not need a diary or a watch.

At these times I need action, results to happen, completion - the motivating factor of success will drive me on. Instead I am left with the slightly dissatisfying motivator of money - which is only really a good motivator for a couple of months after a payrise.

Wednesday, 18 June 2003

Big Bro

I'm stuck in our sweepstake at work this week. There are three people up for eviction - Federico (liability - task looser), Jon (all action bore hero), and Cameron (all round nice guy - apart from his bible reading habits) and two of them have to go.

They need to loose Fed cos he just can't cut the mustard on the tasks (what is it about him? THICK or what) but the girls on the outside lurve him (can't think why). Interested when he was rowing with Ray about who was the campest in the house by a country mile - I'm afraid I have to disagree with him on that one - look at oneself young man. And he did sooo want to wear the red lyrca all in one number with the monkey thong (I think its a monkey, can't quite remember now. Why did he take that in there? Why does he have it anyway?)

Jon has too much value cos he can blind them with science and they are confused by him. Great moments. Classic lines - very blokey stuff (my ex-lewisham male work colleagues would be collecting Jon's Gems by now I feel sure - click here for C4's own attempt at it).

Cameron, so nice (its a crime), ruddy cheeks, innocent seeming (who can really tell), bible reading. Again, he's a character who'll be loved by the women on the outside. His only redeeming feature is that he likes to sneak in for a peek at the bathing beauties (bit pervy).

So it'll really depend on whether the voting public is largely made up of young ladies or enough of a mix to make a difference. In deciding who I was going to go for I keep changing my mind. I first put down the two people to leave will be Fed and Jon but I'm on my way to changing my mind - cos of the so called phauw factor. I'd like Jon to stay so the house can continue to suffer. Cameron - don't care either way. So I might change to Fed and Cameron BUT that won't win me the sweepstake.

Cameron & Jon? Fed & Cameron? Fed & Jon? Decisions decisions.

Tuesday, 17 June 2003

Monday's Life Class

This week we were mostly concentrating on feet. Cos they are hard and Ann felt we should tackle them now that we'd cracked hands (well some of us had for some of the time).

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 78374237.

Sunday, 15 June 2003

Sunday Stroll - OR - Boating Disaster Averted in the Nick of Time

Its safe on a sunny Sunday, to venture into Finsbury Park itself. Today noticed that the boating lake was once again open and boy were many people enjoying it. People queued to take a leisurely row around the lake. There were traffic jams and many near misses (not all to do with the actual number of boats out but more to do with people's rowing skills, or rather lack of). Not all the people knew which direction was front for a boat and were pushing the boat backwards around the lake (flat end, rather than pointy end, first) - needless to say they were not gliding gracefully through the water as it was proving to be somewhat of a struggle. In the end we were gesticulating what rowing technique should look like from the banks.

One of these backwards rowers was a poor put upon woman who was rowing her husband backwards round the lake as he leisurely ate an ice-cream. However once he finished his ice-cream he lit a cigarette and took over the rowing. He powered twice round the lake (rowing correctly but going at a rate of knots in racing fashion, with little regard for the rowing-lightweights all around him) smoking without removing the cigarette from his mouth once. Finally they came to a stand still under the boughs of a willow tree and just as they were about to engage in some conversation in the idyllic romantic setting his mobile phone rang and he had a long conversation on it.

Sitting for a while on the grass on the north side of the racing track we watched a family who had come for a picnic - it was no small event - they had a tent for the little boys to have some shade, a rug, two coolers of food, folding chairs, a buggy, a car...Dad was setting stuff up and didn't look terribly chuffed to be there, the minute the chairs were set up the little ones were climbing all over them...however finally they all found their rightful places and they tucked into the food. We thought they were young people looking like old people - overly prepared with chairs, crockery and cultery - but within 10 minutes two young women and a young man approached, the kids went wild for their mum, she told her littlest son to give a package to grandad. So shockingly while we had thought they were a young family they were the grandparents - very young they looked but doing what grandparents do best - being prepared for all eventualities!

Saturday, 14 June 2003

Slag & Lettuce, Islington

Not so many slags frequent this public house anymore - each time we go in there the ratio of men to women is rising. Something to do with the male bonding before clubbing thing. Neck a few pints and arrive drunk. An abundance of white and pale blue shirts.

Theres a couple of men at the bar, one's a real cock - jeans, white shirt and a blazer - he's very animated, talking, snapping his fingers in the air, fast talking. His mate is laughing. Unusually they have an insatiable need to be in bodily contact with each other - lots of back slapping, high fives, hugging, and then faux fighting - knees in the bollocks, punches in the stomach. The Cock is very touchy touchy, gesticulating, poking the air with his cigarette - city boy, probably on the stock exchange, loud, pressured, rich. His mate is fawning over him.

Suddenly the Cock's girlfriend arrives (eventually work out which one of them she is with - at first they both hug and kiss her, finally the Cock leaves his arm around her and lets it drift down over her bum) and he tones it down completely leaving his mate with nothing to do, no one to bounce off. Two leggy fashionable blonds walk in, go straight to the bar besides them. Cock's mate's eyes are on the one girl, can't focus on anything else even though he is continuing to talk animatedly to Cock and his girlfriend. He's using all his techniques to try to engage this slightly horsey gorgeous girl but she is steadfastly refusing to acknowledge him. He looks her up and down and up, finally so desperate for an in that he is pointing something out on her blouse, almost as if about to poke her... and yes finally he's in. His hands are gesturing around his mouth, "you have lovely lips {they'd look great round my cock}" - every man's best line. He leans in, she's trapped against the bar.

Cock's girlfriend is much admired, every opportunity is taken by both men to get an arm around her shoulders and kiss her hair, and the Cock is always keen to stroke her arse. In between opportunities Cock's mate is chatting up the two blond women. They dutifully pay attention, laughing at the stories, smiling, flicking their hair. Occassionally and extremely subtly it becomes apparent that all three women are trying to get out of the clutches of Cock's mate. But when its closing they all leave together. Cock's mate is in such a hurry to follow the blond beauties that he puts the wrong arm in his jacket sleeve and can't find the other one.

On our way to the bus stop we pass the Cock and his girlfriend waiting for his mate as he takes a pee up the side of a parking ticket machine. So it appears that the blond beauties escaped.

Gorgeous Day in London

So I said to bails, "whadya know?" And she said:

  • People who dye their grey hair need to keep their roots up to date and never let them grow to an inch long.

  • There are hardly any dishy men.

  • Lots of men have bellies.

And she said, "why what do you know?" I know:

  • summer dresses made of cotton with spaggetti straps look like nighties & I don't even wear those in bed.

  • Lee Scratch Perry is so cool he can tempt the media types to the Southbank from their natural habitat in Hoxton.

  • Although dressing all in beige seems very summery, it looks awfully dull in reality.

  • hair spiked up in the middle is O V E R.

  • bottle blond women would rather their hair turn to straw than go brown again.

  • plastic pints of beer look smaller than glass ones.

Friday, 13 June 2003

Ally Pally

One of the pleasures of living in North London is being able to visit Alexandra Palace after work. I can see the palace from my office window and longingly look out during sunny days. Yesterday evening was lovely so Bails and I decided to go up to Ally Pally for a drink (it has a pub which has a huge beer garden with an amazing view over the hill and across London).

The only thing that I always forget when I'm looking at Ally Pally from afar is what it is actually like when you get there. I always forget there are lots of couples there. I always forget that carboys hang out there. I always forget that huge extended family groups go there. However, the view is lovely and you get to be outside.

We slunk past the guys sitting in their car with the doors open watching the entrance of the pub (they weren't looking at the same view as us...viewing totty instead). Its like being at the seaside - there are always those people who drive their car up to the seafront, have their sandwiches looking at the beach from the car and then go home again, even if it isn't raining. I don't understand the never-get-out-of-the-car thing. Theres grass there, benches, a beer, sunshine and you drive all the way up there only to sit in the car listening to the radio without even buying a drink. Still I think their minds are on something else. Ally Pally is also the only place I know (I'm sure there are others though) where large numbers of people 'park' in the American sense of the word. Ever spent the evening out and on the way home don't want to get there too soon so drive the car up to the viewing point to look at the stars? Well the carpark at Ally Pally by the ice rink is ideal for this activity. Needless to say, you won't be the first ones there, you probably won't want to get too close to the car you are parking next to (incase they feel overlooked - the windows may be steamed up but you never know what their reaction may be), and you will probably be the only couple looking at the stars. And the code of conduct is like the one governing men peeing at urinals - DON'T LOOK AT YOUR NEIGHBOURS.

Bails has a thing about joggers - hates them, can't understand why they are doing this, ususally crawling along, often damaging their knees and other joints, why aren't they running on the grass rather than through the beer garden? We saw plenty, including some powerwalkers (see picture above - sadly I was being incompetent and didn't release the shutter until they had almost walked out of the frame -- how simple can a point and click be?).

Wednesday, 11 June 2003


I'm REALLY pissed off - at home making dinner for bails watching that programme with the 1950s cleaning matron, Dad came down suggested we watched a boring film with John Travolta and Forrest Whittiker and I MISSED ER.... I can't believe it. (best teenage strop -- shouldn't really be able to do this still). sulk.

Tuesday, 10 June 2003

To be or not to be... a hypochondriac

I'm trying not to be a hypochondriac but I developed a swelling over my collar bone by my neck and was freaked out by it all weekend.

Yesterday I forgot about it cos I was at a meeting all day in Lincolnshire with my boss and the rest of the Quality Assurance team (extremely high powered - we sat in the sun, ate lunch, looked at the ponies and the sheep, stroked the dogs...and eventually talked about work). Its interesting going to less formal days out with these types of colleagues: I expected one of them to be dressed in khakis and one of those sleeveless jackets with all the pockets that fishermen like, and another to have a real hard time with dressing down but was mistaken in both cases. Discovered that the one who I thought would be in khakis found other people's misfortune hilarious (a woman in silly shoes didn't get out of the train at her stop because her forward planning wasn't very good -- her bag was stowed at the other end of the carriage and she went to collect it but didn't take her briefcase with her - by the time she came back up the train the joining passengers had blocked the aisle -- and it ended in her feebly exclaiming "but I want to get off" as the train pulled slowly out of the station) - she said it came from when she watched her mother catch her toe in a grate outside their house and fall flat down on her nose when she was a child! This humour has stayed with her...!

So anyway, finally today the swelling in my neck was really making itself obvious (to me) so I decided I ought to go get it seen - it could be, you know, cancer, hernia, some horrible sexually transmitted disease (you've heard the stories - people let it go for years and it gets into the lymph and travels all over the body and makes you go mad) ... my list was endless and irrational. So I called the doctor. I hate going to the doctor - not particularly because of the doctors themselves but initally because of the receptionists - FASCISTS - they have the power (in Greystoke voice) to allow you to see a doctor or not because you don't have an appointment (and you have to wait about 3 weeks for an appointment at my surgery so I could've died by then), "is it an emergency?", "how long since you noticed the symptoms?", "Oh, right Sunday and its Tuesday now", "well, let me see ok then - be here by 4 but you will have to wait - could be a very long time."

I went to the doctor, sat in the waiting room for ages and ages, trying to figure out what order the patients were in - pregnant woman after mother and child, single man before or after me? Elderly gentleman, where does he fit into the preferential order of things. And after that trying to figure out what is wrong with them all - pregnancy is obvious but apart from the young man who is snot gobbling furiously (hayfever or summer cold was my guess) I couldn't possibly tell.

And an hour and a half later my name gets called, I've waited so long by then that I'm shocked. During my wait I get rational again and wonder why I was worried in the first place so keep feeling the swelling to check that its still there, prodding it and making it sore. So when I get in I show it to the doctor and she says yes I can see it and prods it. "But I'm not convinced," by what? my story? - do you think I'm lying? seeking attention? here by virtue of untruths? Oh god and I duped the receptionist, I must be goooood, "take off your top". Sadly I wore a higher necked teeshirt today than I would usually and in order for her to get a full picture I have to take off my teeshirt - having not planned to see the doctor or indeed because I hadn't remembered that perhaps this would happen, I haven't remembered which brassiere I'm wearing, haven't readjusted everything so that its all sitting neatly in place and have to take off my top fearing that something will be out of sorts. She prods some more, and decides she must consult a colleague. "Pop through to have a look when you have a mo." In troops the reserve - very good looking young man smartly dressed very sincere and she introduces him and sheepishly following him is someone else - another younger man not so stylishly dressed but smart, and the doctor in reserves introduces his student doctor. Dishy doctors are quite off putting - its much easier to be told off by an old matron or fatherly figure but young tellling off the young - not so keen on that. "Take off you top again". Oh GOD. Now I take off my shirt again with a audience of three and sit feeling very exposed as they look at the sides of my neck (I just want to readjust myself just in case but can't). Dishy doctor comes round the back and starts feeling the sides of my neck, almost like a light massage - and the more he does it the more vulnerable I feel. So when he's felt enough he comes back, sits down to talk and as he starts suddenly sees that I have my top off and says, "oh yes, you can get dressed again before I talk to you". Its not a malicious feeling swelling, although he agrees that there is something there, she doesn't think there's anything there, with shirt on she thought so, with shirt off no. It has no definable edges, doesn't really hurt. Keep an eye on it and if it changes come back to talk again. So the final word is - I am a hypochondriac - sob.


Lifedrawing was cancelled yesterday because the Candid Arts Trust makes more money from hiring out the rooms to degree shows - can't believe its that time already - end of college term. Its taken a really long time for me to get over the whole living by terms and holidays thing - I've worked for a year and a half in community education where we have no definable terms, different times of the year are great for capturing different groups of people - so we have a steady working year. We work in fiancial year quarters. But up until this point there have always been holidays and terms or semesters - all through my life. I never thought I'd be able to cope with working a full year and not getting a six week holiday in the summer with a month wind down in the lead up to it and a month winding up again at the end.

Saturday, 7 June 2003

Saturday Shopping

Went for a trip down to Berrick Street this afternoon. Main reason as always is to buy cloth at the Cloth House - got to be the best cloth emporium I know - full of fashion students, and all sorts of cloth - almost anything you could possibly want - from embroidered felt, saris, pettycoat nets, satins, silk prints, necktie silks, pvc, wool, denim with patterns, with holes...I could go on. I wanted to buy hides to make a leather version of the thai bag I picked up when I was there in February and of course they had some. Once I'm there I always pop into Soho Sohi - the provider of most of much admired big stone rings - they also sell bongs, teeshirts with cannabis and e slogans, jossticks, and any other hippie paraphernalia you could possibly want/need. Then I always get a medium box of hippie veggie food from Beetroot - its the only place that makes bearable hippie food (and I say this as a hardened vegetarian - no meat since 1987) - no wholemeal pottery and heavy heavy bread. The food is good even though the presentation leaves a little to be desired. These trips are the closest I ever come to the hippie thing (never been a much of a fan). There's market stalls -- fruit & veg men shouting incoherently (we once saw Julian Clary fingering courgettes here making obscene comments to camera when he was filming one of his terrible chatshows), fishmongers and florists. End of the street are the peepshows and Raymond's Revue Bar - sleeze, pancaked girls hanging out of doorways in fishnets, patent leather thighboots and feather boas coaxing men in and shifty looking clientele sidling out afterwards. Its frequented by alternatives seeking out small designer shops that hide in the backstreets behind Oxford Street, DJ muso lovers in search of rare tracks in record shops that you must know what you're looking for cos there are no sleeves on the records (browsing is hard and because I'm not nerdy enough to figure it out they scare me), and gaymen cutting through to Prowler (Bails's friend N's fave gay sex shop) and Old Compton Street. There ends my tour of Berrick Street.

Curse of Big Boobs Bras

HS has just been properly measured for bra size in M&S. Her boobs are now officially 2 sizes larger than she thought. Personally, having never wanted to get this kind of shock I have never had this done. So now she has to purchase appropriately-sized underwear which in its self is a terrifying prospect but when you suddenly realise you are now an E cup and have to wave goodbye to delicate sexy ruffly ribbony numbers in exchange for industrial strength elastic and straps you could bungee with that hang next to the gigantic granny armpit knickers, its a sorrowful day indeed. No more flighty brassieres in diaphanous fabric from which your flesh seductively escapes. Into the constructed, firm support, total cover up bras that mould you to fit their form (a form that was invented by an anal retentive in the 1950s) - let nothing escape, let not a single vibration rock the bossom of the wearer. Put a lemon yellow twinset over your angular and firm chest and go forever like a figurehead arriving first on all occassions. Or in search of something less structured and constricting you find yourself in lingerie departments with those shop assistants who are like your mum - bursting into the cubicle while you are still top-naked asking if you need any help, tweaking your straps, adjusting your breast in the cup, aligning the back and cooing at the fit before you have the opportunity to shriek, "get out get out, did I say I needed help?", and having failed in the first instance to get a grip on the curtain resigning yourself to the fact that since she has now seen all you may as well allow yourself to be womanhandled as well.

Friday, 6 June 2003

Witch Bitch Out, Bore In!

So Federico (good looking in a male model kind of way -- too much grease and sticky up in the middle hair -- is this look not SOOO over now?) failed the task for them again so 10 people next week live on £36. Learning to be boyscouts - Jon making absolutely sure the tent was perfect down to practically measuring the 45 degree angle of the tent pegs - took an hour and a half to put it up so perfectly (commentator said they passed the activity half an hour before he was satisfied). Witch bitches (and believe me, this would be me if I were in there) keep hiding in the bedroom together slagging other members of the group. Justine of the "I can't continue to live here if he's here" comment. Sadly someone has to go and Jon, the odd man out, is likely to be the cause of more friction, so he should stay. If every conversation this week was about food, its preperation and how much is left, I dread to think what'll happen next week. Tania and Nush are already sharing bras (very best friends) while the boys are still pussy-footing around each other calling each other 'mate' (just buddy enough but not too familiar). Gos cooking. Jon watering the plants and any washing hanging on the fences. Still more sitting around chewing the fat, and chain smoking (this could all change with the reduction in food/fags money). Well thats all there is to do.....

Thursday, 5 June 2003

Curse of Popularity Day

Had one of those over-popular days yesterday. I had agreed to go with AL to see the Art Deco at the Victoria & Albert Museum (of Prince Albert fame - I'm gonna look that up in a minute and see if there's any truth in it) and then bails had been in an interview and was all hyped needing to drink and the boyfiend was available and suddenly everyone seemed to be wanting to spend time with me and because I couldn't keep everyone happy I started getting that anxiety thing that those of us who like to keep everyone happy get when they can't do everything that everyone wants.

Sadly I think that the whole Prince Albert thing has been debated to death by sex historians and consesus is that it isn't true. However click here for some other slight reading on this and other Victorian sexfactoids. Personally I'm not that keen on the whole pierced genitals thing - GS had a horrible book when we were at college with a picture of a split dick (two ends, rings in each) and at a party with bails some man who was chatting her up suddenly pulled his ringed willy out from his trousers for show and tell - UUGGGG HORROR - tres disturbing. Whole idea fills me with dread. Anyway enough already.

The V&A was swarming with people - lots of middle class ladies from the 'burbs were there to look at the lovely artefacts. It was more crowded than it usually is on a weekend - shocking. I used to hate the V&A having been forced to spend weeks there drawing for college but grew to like it again later when I did a drawing course in the evenings after hours - our class would be the only people in the whole museum -- I got in lots of trouble with the tutor because he said that long skinny pieces of paper disturbed him and I found I was only drawing on long thin strips (we were looking at perspective and stuff and I found it to be a great way of dealing with the extra high ceilings). I really like the sculpture halls with all the wrestling gods - muscular, twisted poses that are rare to find in life classes - and after hours when the lights were low and the evenings longer the atmosphere was great.

Tuesday, 3 June 2003

My New Name

Was surfing around looking for online testing systems - this time to reinforce the management training I did a couple of weeks ago. I was looking for various things but during the search for something on Transactional Analysis (we have 3 ego states - parent, adult and child - how we use them determines how others will react to us, we can therefore manipulate others by using a specific one or alternatively alter they way they are treating us by use of a reaction to them - trainer was always stressing that in work we are trying to be adult - dealing with the here and now). That said I couldn't find an actual online test to do but was reading about it on (a site about personal change - click more at the top of this page and scroll to bottom of page that comes up for the new name thing - a direct link didn't seem to work) and came across a much more hilarious tool - a new name tester. So if you are ever contemplating changing identities you may THINK you need this site - let me just say I would struggle in the world using my suggested new name:

  • my name becomes: Loopy Chickenface

  • bails becomes: Poopsie Applebrain (I'd rather be an applebrain than a chickenface personnally)

  • the boyfriend becomes: Crusty Girdlekisser (imagine - Loopy Chickenface-Girdlekisser - what a name - how the children would weep)

So thats me, Loopy, signing off for the day. See you next time.

Resurrecting Robyn Island - quick up date

Ressurecting Robyn Island - quick up date

I'm having a very bad couple of weeks and have been adding to the inhabitants of Robyn Island: dog owner recently moved to the area who lets his dog shit all over the pavements (outside people's gates! shitty shoes problem returns), Residents Association Lady Cheifton (atilla..), Hao (cos he rang my Dad but thats a whole story in itself - I'll tell you one day), GEORGE BUSH Jr (war mongering criminal liar), and cos you've got him you might as well add Lady Thatcher milk snatcher (get her out the way), Ariel Sharon, Osama Bin Laden, Peter Stringfellow, and if he's there Bails had to add Geri Halliwell (despite the fact she's been out of the press quite a bit), and list goes on...

Monday's Life Class

So we drew a man today for the first time in ages. Concentrating on hands because most of us just try to avoid them. I was also trying not to concentrate on the genitals - having once been told that I had to put them in (cos I was leaving them out) and then being told I'm putting them in more detail than the rest of the drawing therefore attracting the eye to them - I wanted to get it just so...oh the politics of the male anatomy.

Monday Night's art class is brought to you by the Candid Arts Trust a friendly organisation providing open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Its behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 78374237.

Was talking to M about discussions on travel - great if you have common experience (ie having travelled to the same places and therefore being able to discuss) but not great when used as a tool for one-up-manship (i've been to a bigger, better, more exotic, more remote place than you). Travel is often about one-up-manship. Was once accused by SH of being a travel snob - when I was trying to be pale and interesting and shunning the hot holiday and resulting tan thing she said that it was because I didn't want to be like the masses who were swarming to Spain. Similar to older times - fashionable ladies had pale skin because they stayed indoors, working ladies had tanned skin because they worked outside. Then with the advent of cruising and aeroplanes - the wealthy had tans to show that they could afford to travel to foreign exotic and hot climates, the poor had pale skins because they had to stay at home. In the 80s the tan was popular again because travelling abroad became so cheap and everyone could do it - which was the point in time I was accused of being a snob.

Sunday, 1 June 2003

Diceman Generation

Discussing career choices, salary, ambition with Bails and ML outside the Royal Festival Hall on Friday night. So while rueing the fact that we are not in the right business to make lots of money it transpired that none of us had chosen the field we were working in but had, by various means, fallen into it. I was first given a job in a learning centre by a woman I used to cat-sit for - she was short of staff one day and called me (I was unemployed) and asked me to get her out of a hole and be at work for 11.00 - which I did and remained on her temp payroll until the job was officially advertised. Bails got a job in the learning centre at Lewisham College because when she returned from South Africa she needed work and a temporary position became available that I suggested would suit her. ML first came to Lewisham College because the temp agency he was working for had a contract with the college. So we all ended up in student support at further education colleges. And it seemed odd that all three of us had left this extremely important life decision to chance - by not actively deciding which particular field we would a. like to be in, b. make lots of money in, we had left our career choice to fate - we may as well have rolled the dice for the amount of active choosing that we put into it.

Also in love we often leave the meeting of our partner to fate - waiting to be approached, not being very active in the decision making process and expecting this to lead to successfully meeting our lifepartner.

Equally although falling into a field of work by accident as long as you are open to opportunities it is possible to reassert your judgement on the decision making process. My problem was always that I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up (after college I wanted to be an artist but having no purpose was extremely difficult) so stumbling along for a while suited me while I figured out that in order to live the lifestyle that I wanted I would need money, therefore needed better jobs which eventually shocked me into action. Just sometimes wish I had realised all this earlier. I still sometimes wish I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up.

We were also talking about how often we changed jobs. I have found that I generally change roles, even if within companies, about every 2 years partially to increase the challenge, partially because the field doesn't have natural promotion or progression routes, and maybe because we are the TV generation - used to flicking between channels so as not to bet bored.