Thursday, 30 December 2004

Earthquake Tsunami

One of the blogs I read regularly is written by Fred who is in Jaffna in Sri Lanka. He is blogging about whats happening around him at the moment. Visit him here:

this way please

I can't quite get a handle on this awful occurance. I visited Thailand about 2 years ago, many of the islands I was on are probably flattened. They were only reachable by boat, there weren't many escape routes inland, if there was anywhere to escape to. The TV doesn't begin to aid my understanding. I wonder how many of the people who I met when I was there - the hotel owners, workers, guides, fishermen, restuaranteurs - are still alive.

Went for a walk at my favourite place near Dundee - Kinshaldy Beach in the Tentsmere forest. Love this place.

Love the forest, love the sand and the dunes, love the sea and the light. Its not hot, but its very dramatic and empty. Sweeps the cobwebs out of your hair and reminds you of why its good to be alive.

Tuesday, 28 December 2004


And just in case you haven't heard about this part of Dick and Dom inda Bungalow (Sat morning kids TV) I just thought I throw it into the pot that I find it eye wateringly hilarious. Bails got me into it. The first one I saw was an Old Fogey Bogey - where two elderly ladies accompanied by Dick and Dom were taken into an art gallery in order to compete. They had to shout bogies in turn louder and louder - the loudest to shout was the winner. Its stupid but really really funny. Mixture of their embarrassment, and bewilderment from people around them. Apparently Dick and Dom themselves have done this in theatres and lectures. And they've done it with parents in the library. I'm hoping at some point they'll bring out a video of bogies clips. 10/10.30ish Saturday mornings.

Sad I know.

100 best TV moments - no. 76
Guardian review
Lake District

Bails and I stopped off in the Lake District on the way to Dundee. Staying in Kendal on the first evening we arrived at 6.00 and after resting for a while went out to find something to eat (since the hotel restaurant shut at 8.30 - really not used to these provincial eating times). Most restaurants were closed however - it seems that we were just out of sync with the local dining times. Finally we found an italian where nice waiters took pity on us and let us have their last table of the night. It was pouring with rain, we were drowned. They persuaded us to have a bottle of wine, a starter, and salad with our mains, and to round it off with cappuccinos. It wasn't until we had finished and the bill came that they told us that the card machine wasn't working because all the telephones in Kendal were out of order. Bails was sent off to the cashpoint. I stayed with the waiters and joked about being good at washing up. Some time later Bails came back empty handed - none of the cashpoints were working either. We scraped together £22 in change and they kindly let us off the remaining £7. Which was nice. Didn't really fancy washing up.

Following day we strolled around Kendal, and then visited Grasmere. A place where hardened walkers go on 'hikes' across the hills. We visited Wordsworth's Grave (by chance) and his garden - which Bails said in spring is full of daffodils. Put us in mind of his poem:
I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

The whole time I was filled with images from books by the bronte sisters and costume dramas by the BBC with lovelorn victorian ladies and stiff upper-lipped farming gentlemen. Beautiful in a very British way - dry stone walls, moss, ferns, rain, grey stone houses, rivers and lakes.

We stopped in a cafe in Grasmere for some late lunch. It was full of serious walkers in boots and waterproof trousers with their packs all over the place. All teal fleece, jackets in go-faster designs with accents of contrasting colours and double ended zips. High performance fabrics, glasses that anti-glare. Drinking tea out of stainless steel teapots and reading the paper. Men with a few days beard growth and productless hair. Women with ruddy faces. I felt very much city dressed and out of place. Like the silly city cousins visiting the countryside retreat and having tea with their poor country cousins.

Saturday, 25 December 2004

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The telly is crap again, two guests are here already - G is watching a video of the Big Labowski (like the film) and Bails is doing the vaccuuming (its 12.15!) because she's feeling manic so I expect it to be a good job. Its a weird one, Christmas, the mania, the shopping... I think I was at odds with everyone today - my only chore was to pick up the hire car, any time I came anywhere near a shop it was like everyone was in desperate need of a valium. The car place was in some kind of disarray and the waiting time was 2 hours late for the pick ups. I chatted with a chinese family who had come by train from Paris on route to Glasgow who were now over 2 hours late setting off. Its quiet outside now.

Have yourselves a good one! I'll be cooking turkey that I won't eat!

Friday, 24 December 2004

Christmas Shopping

She sits with a coffee. She has a hard paper carrier bag from an expensive jewellers on her knee. From inside she draws out a blue card box and opens it, carefully lifting the inner card cover and gently shaking the contents inside - most likely a necklace or chain of some sort - to make it hang down in the box. A formation of diamond lights land on her face and dance around as she looks down at the contents. She smiles, and closes the box back up.

Wednesday, 22 December 2004

The Peckham Rye Mouse

A tiny grey mouse darting about between the tracks and the sleepers picking up crumbs and investigating litter. Hiding in the cracks between the loose bricks where the grouting has fallen out.

I like this mouse. I've seen him before. He's very active, fast and really rather cute. I thought he was the only one. A solitary mouse, out in the big wide open space. A refugee from the depths of the tunnels. He does, after all, seem to be exactly like the tube mice - those unlucky souls who never see the light of day, live on old chewing gum and excite the observant passengers standing slightly too close to the yellow line.

As I watched him today, waiting for the imminant arrival of the London Bridge bound train, he suddenly scampered across the tracks followed by a gang of friends. Maybe 10 of them, darting from a variety of directions to many different destination holes. So as it turns out, he's not a solitary mouse.

Outside my office window is a one way street. Southwark is fond of a strange traffic calming system that makes a one way system where there isn't really a prevailing direction - you come off the high road to the first corner and have to turn right, cars coming towards you from across the junction also have to turn left and you can't go straight, go down and then have to turn right again, then right again, then you have a longer stretch of road which crosses the one you turned off originally, and then you have to turn left. Confused? Me too. Have no idea how you get back to the high street if you turn off it and want to get back there. No idea at all.

Anyway. If you turn off the high road and then do a right (because you have to) you get stuck in a file of traffic trying to turn left into the Netto carpark. All these cars drive up to the queue all over the road, don't keep to the left, therefore you have to join the queue even if you aren't trying to get into Nettos. Some of those queueing are just trying to get along the one way system.

Well, its christmas. Everyone is shopping like they are going to holed up for a 10 week stretch. The carpark in Nettos is extremely busy. There is a queue that goes all the way back to the high street. People are sitting in their cars leaning on their horns (like its going to make the shoppers get out of Nettos quicker and get out of the car park). Its the prevailing sound of the week - irritated horn blowing in unison, for extended periods.

Incidentally Nettos smells like chlorine, which puts me off buying anything there incase it tastes like chlorine too. And its next door to a United Kingdom Church of God place.

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Christmas Give-Away

You're all so lucky! Well actually they've been around for a considerable time now but my allocation of freebies keeps getting extended, so if there is ANYBODY out there who is yet to get one and wants one, please email me at harrietsblogg at gmail dot com.

I have 16, yes thats right 16 free gmail invitations to give away!. First 16 to email me get 'em (I need an email address in order to send the invite to you). (Presuming of course that there are 16 people out there without one).

Advantages: big space, searchable messages, not too much spam. Possible weird things: conversations are saved together rather than in IN and OUT boxes - easy to find messages and replies relating to one another on one hand, different from normal therefore odd on the other hand.

UPDATE (as of 3/1/2005): still got 12, so if you really really want one, you can still have one! Drop me a line!

Monday, 20 December 2004

All Bar One, New Oxford Street, The Beer Goggles

The girl with huge knockers and long dangling silver earrings is holding court for 3 men in suits. Its those boozy after work evenings coming up to christmas when alcohol oils the conversation. She's being very animated on the subject of sex. They are hanging on her every word. Perhaps they all feel that they could be lucky if they laugh loudly enough at her jokes and make sure she knows they find her wit and repartee dazzling. She's trying to explain to Mark that he's still single because of his inability to remain faithful.

Sunday, 19 December 2004

Weird Things to Carry in a Bag Today

  1. A little dog - on 73 from Kings Cross to Oxford Street - in a smallish bag worn under the arm.
  2. a mini christmas tree - on 19 from Angel to Highbury corner - in a rucksack with the zipper open

Friday, 17 December 2004

The Door Wars

Having rediscovered the Spitz the other night we met a couple of ex-work colleagues (from different works) there for an apres work drink. Its the Christmas Party season and the inside was set up for some mammoth dinners, so we sat outside. In 0 degrees. Fortunately there were gas heaters. And lots of alcohol. It did become necessary to wrap up warm and wear gloves. Fridays appear to be jazz night (remember it has to be with a long jjjjjjjj soft aaaa and long zzzzzzzzz). The band was banished to the doorway between the terrace and the warm inside. They started playing around 9.30, starting with a guitar, drummer and bass player. Later joined by a sax, later still by a trumpet and finally rounding up with the addition of a trombone.

The door was wide. It didn't have a closing arm on it. A seperate part of the restuarant was being hired out by a massive party. They were getting really pissed. They had to use the toilet through the main part of the restaurant. Someone would come along, open the door, come through, leave it ajar and go to the loo. The door would gradually work its way wide open. The band, (most annoyed at first was the drummer), would huff in the middle of their piece and one of them would get up and shut the door. On returning a drunken someone would make it back to the door, fling it open and stagger through it, forgetting to shut it at all. Band member gets up, display of total irritation and slam it shut again. This went on for over an hour.

For some reason when the door was slammed shut, whoever was doing so would shoot us a look like daggers, like it was anything to do with us. We started to find this rather funny. This didn't endear us to the band. The people got more and more pissed. The band got more and more pissed off. We spent more and more time pissing ourselves laughing.

Austin went to the toilet and, having discussed with us earlier, left the door ajar. The guitarist said, "DOOR!" sharply after him but he ignored it. On his return from the toilet the guitarist shouted at him, "SHUT THE DOOR BEHIND YOU" so loudly Austin heard it when he was six feet away. He felt he had to close it properly. Well you would really, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Sleep Commute Work

So I've entered this life of sleep commute work commute sleep commute work etc etc. Only I've been much better at breaking the after work commute with a bit of play. Then the work started to become frustrating and stifling (after just 6 weeks).

Something about them not knowing me and how I work, and what I'm capable of against me not knowing how to work them (long time local authority servants, retirement closing in). Sometimes it difficult to be a new girl.

Then my frustrations were such that I started gathering a list of issues to take to my boss. All valid. All much talked about to other people. (You become that kind of person with one topic of conversation - the BIG winge. Like when someone is planning to break up with their boyfriend - you have to gather as much evidence about it being the right thing to do as possible. Only people weren't helping, they were just adding fuel to the confusion.)

Then a job came up at my old work place. A good job. So I applied. And got called for an interview.

Between finding out about the interview and having the interview I had the meeting with my boss. There came no clarity from this meeting. But I stood on the side of London Road, looking at the row of old houses and thinking about the new neighbourhood I work in, the new organisations, the possibilities, the places I see, the distance I travel.

Next day at the interview I felt like it went ok but that I was a babbling stream of consciousness rather than cool and level headed. Sort of came out hoping the decision would be made for me. It wasn't. They offered me the job with a deadline of 12 noon the following day for an answer.

I hummed. I haa'd. Swang this way then that. Boyfiend and I went to the movies to take my mind off it. Slept on it this way. Turned over, slept on it that way.

Woke up. Definitely going to turn it down. 5 minutes later, no should definitely take it. Concerned at how the new organisation would feel with me going so soon. Huge feeling of guilt, leaving them in the lurch (important upcoming deadlines). Moving would lead to a more positive and sorted environment. Staying would give me the opportunity to see how to make change happen in difficult circumstances. Moving would mean I would have an uncomfortable notice period to work out. Staying would mean I'd have to deal with an unclear vision and defining a new role. Moving would mean going back to dealing with all the people I knew, loved and found difficult in a better-the-devil-you-know kind of way. Staying would mean... Moving would mean... I felt sick. Sicker and sicker as the day went on. 12 past. 12.30 past. Text from my old boss curious about a decision. 1 past. 1.30. I called. I was going to move. The voice said hello, I said I'm staying then I hummed and haa'd. But the minute I made the decision the sickness subsided.

Sometimes a decision is all encompassing. You see good and bad in both sides. Nothing makes it easy to figure out. There are no right answers. Gut instinct isn't working. Sometimes its better not to put yourself in that position in the first place. I'm exhausted but I don't feel sick. Which is good.

Tuesday, 14 December 2004

In the Bleak Mid-Winter

The grey stays all day, cold, misty air, visible breath whisps away over your shoulder as you walk along the street, nose chilled red and drippy. Fingers go white with loss of feeling having been wrapped round the work bag handles all day. The only joy is of christmas lights in the high streets after dark, as I snuggle into my coat and scarf on the final bus journey home.

Saturday, 11 December 2004

Office Christmas Party

The old work one. You know its time to go home when you've partaken of white wine and several tia maria's & coke (my favourite, most sickly, girlfest of a drink - much piss is taken out of me for it but I like it and once, a long time ago, a man asked me what I was drinking and when I told him he said, "Oh I thought you would be drinking something exotic like tia maria", which started me on a phase that I am yet to grow out of) and find yourself in the Medicine Bar on Upper Street and your old boss and bails are so pissed they are losing the ability to stand up and hold their heads up respectively. Being told by some stranger that he can tell you are sober by the fact you can look him in the eye and if it would be any help, or encourage you to stay, he could offer both the girls a line. Gathering coats (bails trying to put hers on upside down and being in that kind of state where you can't figure out whats not quite right) and bundling everyone into a very understanding black cab with quite some relief. Its lovely to get into a cab at the end of the evening sometimes.

Friday, 10 December 2004

Morning Man

Why would you wear a black suit with brown shoes? And a fat knotted black tie (a la footballers)? And a white shirt? And do up the top button (of three) only therefore pulling the jacket taught across the chest? And carry a fake louis vuitton weekend overnight bag? And wear your clothes like you had bullet proof vest underneath?

Unless perhaps you were a copper going undercover. Or a MI5 agent like on Spooks. Or doing some personal body guarding. Or being a funeral director and finding your black shoes too uncomfortable to wear on the way to work, therefore carrying them in your bag.

Oh, so much hypothesis, so few answers.

Wednesday, 8 December 2004

Road Trip

Bails and I are going on another great adventure. We've hired the car already. Its going to be fab. There will be singing along to old family faves (mine include a strange mix of Ray Charles, Dolly Parton and Boney M, it was only recently that we discovered that hers are very similar but are likely also to include Queen).

We've done this before - for some reason we like to do the driving thing, disadvantage is that I'm the only one who can drive.

Most recently we went to France and stayed in a cottage up some single track road 100 miles south of Toulouse. Great countryside. On the way I got a terrible phonecall from the Boyfiend who had just found out his sister had died and in the mind scramble that followed I managed to clip the wing mirrors of all the cars parked on the main street in a town we were going through. Quite some going I thought.

Later in the trip we were on a roundabout when I recognised some people who shared the same morning train as me, not knowing their names I shouted, "Haringey Folks!" loudly out the window but we didn't have time to see if they noticed. Incidentally, on my return to the commute I kept wanting to say to them (they were a young couple - he had red curly hair and she was waif-like, could've been French) how did they enjoy the south of France, but never got up the courage. Finally, I decided that they must have split up because he started only coming to the station alone, had a major overhaul and shaved his hair off.

We set the scene however in South Africa. Bails was living with a boyfriend out there and I went to visit - we hired a car to drive down to Addo Elephant Park from Cape Town. Great driving - empty roads, beautiful scenery, fantastic hostel type places. When we reached Addo we kept pulling up to view the elephants, at the watering hole, tonnes together in a group, running etc, for some reason (as is common with a hire car) I couldn't get used to the fact the horn was one of those central plates on the steering wheel and I kept leaning on it and tooting the horn - kept getting the worst looks from everyone else around us. I was mortified. Bails on the other hand, couldn't stop laughing. And I did it more than once. Then it started to rain, and the tracks turned to mud. A nice man from up front in a four wheel drive got out and told me how to drive in such conditions - don't ever hit the brake and go very very slowly. So we inched around the park. I was concentrating so hard by the time we pulled into the carpark I forgot to brake and drove into the wall. Bails practically pee'd her pants.

On our way from there to Port Elizabeth we got caught for speeding through a village. Quite unintentionally. There were some strapping police officers with a speed gun. I held my hands up, and offered to pay, without question. I think the combination of my accent and my willingness to cough up led to them letting me off with a (not terribly) stern caution ("don't let me catch you doing it again") type thing. Nobody could believe it when we got back (300 dollar fine apparently).

So, hopefully none of that this time. But we are looking forward to it.

Saturday, 4 December 2004

Shoreditch Fridays

Bails was tired but met for a quick drink after work. When we met she suggested the Spitz. Haven't been there in an age. We ate. And drank a bottle of wine. After sitting there for an age trying to finish the slightly acidy wine a live band started up. Jazz. A trio of guitar, sax and drums. The drummer was stroking his drums with those metal basting-style sticks and looking out the window at passing beauties (as opposed to paying attention to the job at hand). Eventually a double bass player arrived and joined in. We left before the slow melodic jazz (has to be said in that breathy voice, hard J, round a and long zzz) got the better of us.

Once out in the street we decided on going and getting one for the road. Fatal last words. Nipping round the corner through the back end of the Truman Brewery we nipped into the Big Chill, partner of the Cantaloupe. Where we stood round watching the young people cop off.

A Mick Hutchenson-alike with snake hips and a white cotton sweater kept dancing up close behind his girlfriend while breathing into her hair. He wore his hair carefully in order to hide his receeding hairline.

In a space that was suddenly created by an exodus a man came to dance, on his own, in his own world, doing his own thing. He danced the dance of a man who had spent many summers raving in fields, and this was obviously one of his favourite tracks. He had arm movements, foot moves, full body action, motion from side to side, diagonally and up and down. When it was over, he vapourised, as if into thin air. Two public school graduates and their girlfriends watched, not really sure if in disbelief or awe.

And finally, at midnight we caught a taxi home.

Thursday, 2 December 2004

3 Men and a Funeral

The men are somewhere between 30 and 40, jovial, coming from work, two white, one asian.
"So it was Tuesday?"
"What did they do, burn him?"
One guffaws, "Cremate him, you mean!"
"yeah, isn't that what they do to christians?"
"Well... I'm going to be buried, but we're catholic."
"I'm not catholic but I'm going to be buried as well. Got me plot sorted already. Its a family one, first there's me great uncle, then there'll be me dad, and then me... Unless of course I die before me dad, then we'll be the other way up..."

Theres a woman with a ring of bruise around her bloodshot eye. A look of pain shot down the carriage and she cluthces her book to her chest and disappears into her inner world. Unconsciously she raises her forefinger to the cut over her eye and traces the scab. At Highbury & Islington the sallow man standing close to her leans over and says quietly, "I'll see you later" and steps out of the train. She turns as he goes and the rings on her left hand (engagement and wedding) glint in the dim light.

Wednesday, 1 December 2004

Famous On the Side of the Road

Clive Anderson standing on the side of the Highbury Corner roundabout, after dark, chill of night air. Steps forward as a silver car approaches and stops to pick him up. Inside a woman with long wavy blond hair smiles. He is in navy blue, sort of slight on the bottom and wider on the top. Blending into the background. Instantly recognisable, but definitely not catching one's eye.

Monday, 29 November 2004

Huge golden aura
Gleams from behind a tower block
So long before its visible again
I start to think it was lighting
And then we turn to face it
Above the thick dark water of a canal
Slap slapping the banks
Reflected there, still, in the lapping
Large, misty, low in the autumn sky
The waning moon.
Dappled by tree branches
Framed by a crane
Dips behind the buildings.
I was once told by a four year old
That as long as you can see the moon
Its ok to be outside in the dark.
Its ok.

Sunday, 28 November 2004

Sleeplessness at 3.00am

The moon is out, the night is full of white light. Black tree skeletons against light clouds. The quiet of the early hours. The hours when unusual waking causes reflection about things past, long gone, deep secret desires and fears. Wander naked through the thoughts until sounds from reality bring you back - wind chimes, car wheels on tarmac somewhere far away, the clock constantly ticking reminiscent of old aunties and over stuffed parlours. Cool skin in the chill night air.

Thursday, 25 November 2004

What Brings You Here?

A myriad of searches end up here, not sure anybody ever finds what they are truely looking for but their curioristy is roused by the search engine at least enough for a click. The one thing that is annoying about blogs is that each month is a page all its own, so the searches often find a whole raft of writing and not the specific post. So, here are some of the stranger queries and where you might find an answer (unlikely to be THE answer, but an answer of sorts) - as a pointer, just in case any of these were you (and apologies to anyone who's read it all before).
Pressure Point

My arm against his chest.
Her back and bum against my chest and stomach.
My other arm sandwiched between their backs & bums.
My back against his stomach and bag.

Could almost get shiatsu standing there with so many other people pressed against your pressure points. Sadly the effort of standing prevents the necessary relaxation.

Wednesday, 24 November 2004

The Two Unrelated Deaths of Rachel Dean


She read the notice. Please do not lean out of the window or open the door when the train is moving. She thought about it. Considered the yellow triangular warning symbol beside it with an exclamation mark.

Through the window, slightly misty with condensation, the street lights, car head & brake lights, traffic lights, blurred, all colours and twinkly against the pane, smudging across the droplets, blending together like coloured spots on a movie camera lens.

Inside the carriage the commuters slept. Two colleagues discussed issues about The Company. And a couple of teenage lovers play faught over phones and hats. The girl playing up in front of a couple of curb-chain wearing hardnut boys, one of whom eyed her knowingly from the corner of his eye, a feint smile spreading occassionally across his face.

The train passed over a street, then the sidings became brush and bare trees. With sudden movement she opened the door and before anyone could grab her flung herself from the train. A flurry of coat tails whisked past the train.

Necks whiplashed twisting to see what had happened. The door slammed shut as the brakes screamed on. The wind and commotion died down in an instant, as if nothing had happened and she had never been there at all. A split second, collectively dreamt by a dozy carriage. No one had seen her before the incident and all anybody recalled was a flap of cloth, which could have been anything, a plastic bag or old newspaper thrown up by the speed of the train. No one could be sure that it wasn't just a faulty catch on the door.


In the shadow of St Pauls on Ludgate Hill is a serenading balcony over a scallop-shell doorway where Rachel liked to crouch and watch the world go by along the muddy road to and from the worship and the bridge. Her mother used to scold her lest anyone would see, afraid of what she would look like to passers by. The fishmongers and the butcher's wives and that girl that sold string. But Rachel was curious and wore it like those with itchy feet, nose pressed up against the glass, desperate for a world beyond.

One particular cold day she had slipped away from her reading and stood on the balcony with the breeze in her hair. Her mother, upon noticing her missing from her chair, shrieked her name in such a way that on hearing it Rachel started so vigorously she caught the railing edge and fell head first over it onto the ground below. Her fallen body startled a horse and it reared up and trampled her, fear in its eyes.

Doctors were called but there was little they could do. For a few hours her mother cradled her crumpled body in her arms, but she was dead already.

Monday, 22 November 2004


Get she got lucky on Saturday night y'know. Yes, she did [raised eyebrows, plucked very thin]. I said, so is fanny out of practice? Yes, she said, it don't alf urt today [one raised eyebrow, downward smirky lip]. I bet you weren't even wearing your shaggin knickers. No, she said, but it didn't matter cos when I came to get back dressed I couldn't find em anywhere. I ad to come ome without any. Don't know where they got to. [double raised eyebrows, hyena cackles].

Life really is a carry-on movie.
Monday's Life Class

Back to the DEEP SHADOWs time of year. Haven't done this for a while. Little bit more tricky in ink. Very easy to do a wide section of darkness and make it look really flat. I like some of the things that happen with ink but still haven't really discovered a style that really feels good.

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, 21 November 2004

Draining the Main Vein

2 men stand on either side of a tree that's growing on the top of a slope. The street lamp highlights 2 arcs of piss against the dark. Steam rises into the cold air as the streams hit the grass.

Saturday, 20 November 2004

Virtual Reality Linkfest

Fab to see you, you, you, you and you & z again!

Great to meet you, you and you. Two of you completely different to my mental picture of you! And nice to make your aquaintance.

I love the fact that people who you read frequently turn out to be suprising in many ways. I have discovered that I am much more extrovert in person than in writing. An impression given by the constant sense of watching and not taking part, I believe.

Thursday, 18 November 2004

Bendy 73 Good Manners

Obviously now that the driver has driving duties but no ticket collection (being as you board on any door and don't show a ticket) he doesn't have so much face-to-face with the customer, and, those drivers who used to be conductors and got to talk to the passengers all day, are having to adjust to having no fun and nobody to talk to for their entire journey. This evening's driver was keeping himself occupied with reminding us of good manners and bendy bus etiquette.

"Ladies & gentlemen", he said over the loud speaker, "please remember that you don't need to show your passes on the 73, by doing so you slow down the boarding process. Only show your pass if an inspector requests to see it." The japanese tourists who prompted this announcement failed to understand what he was talking about and carried on rooting around in their pockets trying to dig out their day travelcards to show him.

Later, "Ladies & gentlemen, its good to give up your seat to elderly passengers." The white haired elderly lady looked embarrassed. Nobody moved for some minutes that seemed like hours, finally 3 people got up to let her sit down.

When an older gentleman next got on people jumped up immediately without being prompted. Maybe all bus drivers should teach manners. There's lots of things I'd like them to teach us: watch your rucksack as you turn around; please stand up to let the inside passenger get out; don't sit with your legs splayed so wide apart; don't eat smelly burgers on the back of the bus; I could go on ad infinitum...

Wednesday, 17 November 2004

The Lost Hour

Its dark outside. Long bus journey from London Bridge to home. Sitting nestled into the seat, arm against the window, stranger pressed into the seat next to me. He's reading. I look out the window, music playing through my ears. Lights buildings streets stations trees pass by. HEat pumps out beside my feet, my legs get hot. The bus trundles along.

Somewhere between seeing the fancy lights on the Gainsborough Studios Apartments and Clissold Park I lose consciousness. The warmth, the music, the rocking. I wake with a start worried that a. I've overshot my stop, b. I've been snoring, c. or dribbling, d. or resting my head on the stranger's shoulder. In that order. I hold my breath in anxiety for a while. And then finally can be relieved that none of the above are true. Phew.

Tuesday, 16 November 2004

The Purple and Pink Plastic Clogs

I don't often get requests but following the moan about life class Psychbloke said I had to post the picture (the one with me in purple and pink plastic clogs, my cousin and her uncle the ronald mcdonald clown). Needless to say I was remembering the pictures wrongly. The purple and pink clogs and the ronald mcdonald clown were on the same trip to America but not in the same photo. Here are the two incidents (oh, and I'd thought I'd throw in a couple of samples of my work from 27 May 1973 which happened to be on the same page in the photo album - the first one is called boat and, while the second one could easily be a spider, it could also be a person with long hair - and I only say this because it doesn't look too dissimilar to the people I drew at that time).

This was back in 1973 (which will account for a whole host of issues such as the poor quality of the photo, although reproductive process didn't help either, the fashion faux pas, the decor etc etc).

I was 3, just. I'm thinking I had a lot of hair for 3 (judging by my neice's efforts in the hair department, but perhaps we grew more in the 70s to compensate for the lack of electricity). My cousin is about 3 days older than me, but she is the baby of a family of boys (which is why I'm thinking she looks more baby-like) while I was a very independent only-child (my world was altered irreversably in approximately 5 months from this time with the birth of my sister).

This was in Oklahoma City, home of the paternal grandfolks. Nanny lived in a single story house with a garage, a carport and a huge garden yard lined with small trees and a sort of gas works thing fenced off in the middle. I very much enjoyed it in Oklahoma when I was this age - Uncle Tom had a massive family of 4 boys and a girl - lots of kids to play with, big games. The boys were afraid of my mum this trip because they thought she was going to make them strip naked to paddle in the pool (as I was prone to doing). Luckily she didn't make them and they got over their fears. On our next trip the first thing Nanny did when we arrived was take me shopping to buy swimming costumes - 2 bikinis to be precise, on the way home when I was being naughty she threatened to paddle me with the table tennis bat she kept in the glove compartment if I didn't sit back and be quiet. The good old days.

Anyway, my cousin had these purple plastic clogs. They were the greatest. My dad bought me a pair. I think I liked them the best because they had no backs. They were also sort of shiny in a plastic kind of way. I was never again allowed to have anything else other than sensible clarks brown sandals until I started buying my own shoes. These were the bees knees. In the middle picture my cousin is looking at her uncle because she isn't quite sure who this clown is, I on the other hand was quite confident that I'd never met him before but he kept tickling me which was funny.

Monday, 15 November 2004

Monday's Life Class

So I was imagining aubugine and blood red - that deep deep rich shiny purple and thick dark red. Instead I got purple and pink. Purple and pink! It reminds me of a pair of plastic clogs I had when I was 3 which my parents bought me in Oklahoma City because my cousin had a pair and I really liked them. I'm wearing them in a picture of the pair of us with her uncle who was a Ronald McDonald (before he always wore yellow and red). Its all a bit too barbie & ken and not enough action man.

What I was actually trying to capture was something reminiscent of either Jesus on the cross or those pots from ancient Greece with the althetes on them. But instead I think it just looks screamy queen rather than homoerotic.

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.
Tiger Lillies

Its been a long while since I saw the Tiger Lillies. Its a long time since they played regularly in the Kings Head on Upper Street when we could whoop and shout and sing along, when afterwards we would chat and later when GS was pissed we'd go in the back room and she would inevitably end up flashing her tits.

I met the boyfiend in there. He turned from the hatch after buying a drink and kissed me dead on the mouth, quite took me by suprise (in a good way). It took a couple more chance meetings before he actually asked me on a date, but he did and that was 7 years ago.

I have fond memories of those times. Sometimes we go back in for old times sake, look around, see some of the same old bar props, the same faded decor, and feel totally changed from who we were then. Its no bad thing, I would hate to still be hanging around there.

So after the Kings Head there was Shockheaded Peter. The Tiger Lillies went BIG. I'm pleased they have become a success, I knew they could be and that I couldn't possibly be the only person in London and the world who loved them.

Today I saw them. They fill a theatre in London, they fill big stadiums in Europe. They played some new stuff and some of the old ones. Some of the same old people were in the audience. Some things never change.

Saturday, 13 November 2004

Via Camden (Visions from the Bus)

A bouncer outside the Black Cap nonchalantly kicks a piece of paper off the pavement (in an attempt to move it to the gutter). The paper slides up off the pavement in a 180 degree curve and somehow sticks against his legs. Lost cool.

Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Mucky Movies

After work drink in the grotty pub at the bottom of my street. A chinese man wiht a big smile comes in flashing a dodgy DVD for sale. Nobody in the pub wants any of his pirate DVDs. Behind us the pissed irish bloke says, "You got any derti fillums?" rolling his r's. The chinese man doesn't understand. Raised voice, "shagging movies?". The chinese man roots around in his bag of wares but doesn't find anything approprite. He slips out the door and wanders onto the next pub.

Tuesday, 9 November 2004

Rainy Evenings

Its raining hard. People huddle under shelter and umbrellas as drops pour down and overspills cascade. I wait outside Charing Cross Station under lamplight. The Evening Standard man shouts FINE-AL in two long drawn out syllables. I'm sure this is how it used to be - street traders and sellers close to Covent Garden shouting their wares as posh people promonaded and horse drawn carriages trundled up the muddy thoroughfare that the Strand must have been.

Monday, 8 November 2004

Monday's Life Class

New pen, lots of nibs, new colours of ink - all very exciting but transitional. 20 min, several 5 mins and a 40 min to finish.

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.
Spelling Mixups

Two of my most persistent spelling mix ups are:

loose (slack or baggy) vs lose (to misplace) [just so we're clear, not because I believe that you make the same mistakes I do!]

I always spell lose like loose because I mix up the sound of the Os - it would just make better sense to me if lose was spelled loose and loose was somehow something else.

Sunday, 7 November 2004

Sunday Stroll

Wandering aimlessly towards the Tate along the Thames, past innumerably buskers and heaps of tourists, stopping only for coffee, and a quick pop in to listen to the Bruce Nauman exhibit before going to see the Diwali Festival of Light thingy in Trafalgar Square (which was packed, even through the drizzle).

Saturday, 6 November 2004

10 Years of the National Lottery

Crossing Hungerford Bridge we happened to spy in the distance some fireworks coming off from what looked like the Thames and turned out to be celebrations of 10 years of the Lottery. Great way to continuously lose a pound or several every week. Not enough winners to show for it. The fireworks would have been nice if we'd have been nearer. But I liked the way the light fell on the Thames.

Bus Gossip

Riding on a 73 bus along Essex Road, standing beside two young women, facing one and the other's back to me. The one facing me was saying, "...does he know that you'd only be able to love him properly if he was rich?...He does!...So if he said, like, lets get wed you'd say no? You would? Poor Martin." Poor Martin indeed. Methinks he should ditch her personally.

Friday, 5 November 2004

Remember Remember

Bonfire Night - always a thrill, the anticipation of the fireworks, the loud bangs, the colours, the ooos and the aaahhs. Since working southside I decided to call on southside friends for a good place to head to and Brockwell Park won. The display was ok - we stood on a path (none of that muddy on the hillside thing that it normally becomes) watching what was later described as a female-pleasing display (I think this meant that they stretched them out so we could get the full effect of each type and were designed rather well). I have discovered that I am therefore always more attracted to the male-pleasing idea of getting a load of fireworks together and letting them all off at the same time for maximum boom and colour explosion. Anyway what it lacked in maximum boom it made up for in longevity. Although ML said that he was at the Sydney Olympics Closing Party when the Syndey Harbour Bridge erupted in fireworks and really felt that after that it didn't matter if he ever saw another firework ever again. We sniggered at a man behind us who kept shouting, "Oh YES" over and over like orgasms in movies.

After the display we tootled up the hill to a wacky housing association place called The Quadrangle which was having a bonfire party. The bonfire started out as an amazing man made from wood and ivy with a pumpkin head - an anonymous effigy. There were a few choice fireworks and toasting marshmallows while trying not to get burned - long sticks were found to be necessary. Nothing tastes as great as a marshmallow burnt black on the outside, runny on the inside eaten off a long twig.

A long night of standing around chatting whilst transfixed by the burning embers in the bonfire pit. Marvellous. Reminded me of the first bonfire party I am aware of in my life - held at my nursery school, a huge bonfire in the middle of the grounds surrounded by trees and fallen leaves thick on the ground, potatoes wrapped in foil and baked around the edge of the bonfire, three friends stood round laughing (photographic evidence shows we were all wearing slightly-too-short-flares and mostly had sort of shortish flyaway hair, but it was 1974).