Wednesday, 30 June 2004

A Storm Was Brewing

It was sunny overcast and humid. A big fat raindrop fell behind my glasses lens and hit me on the eyelid, rolled off and down my cheek. It was cool and wet, not hot stingy and sticky like tears. But despite the weight of the rain there wasn't enough of it to freshen the air. Sadly.

Tuesday, 29 June 2004

Monday's Life Class

I felt like going back to charcoal this week - maybe I'll ink again another day, but we had a change of teacher while Ann holiday'd abroad. All poses between 10 - 20 mins. Definitely felt the time away - struggled to get the drawing right in almost all cases but improved during the class to the extent where I was actually quite pleased with the last two drawings. The final one came out like Man-as-Greyhound, which is interesting - both this man and a grey hound are pared down to the leanest fit-for-purpose figure - greyhound for running, this man for dancing.

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, 27 June 2004

Supermarket Dilemma Number One

Which checkout to join? The one with a queue of two or the empty one where the clerk has just been digging his nose out with his bare hands (both nostrils). Hmm, I wonder...

Friday, 25 June 2004

Man Admires Bottom and Other Observations

A floppy-haired bespectacled man, serious, stands a few feet back at a crowded bus stop contemplating the high round buttocks, clad in stretch denim, of a beautiful young woman. Its warm early evening.

An elderly japanese woman wearing white trousers and lots of rouge has a cylindrical hairbrush caught in her hair in such a way that it causes the hair to bouffant so that it looks like the styled coiffure of a concubine. She stops by some large pots of bamboo while she tries to loosen it.

A pink-faced man in a red shirt. Scrawny and british-looking, he has styled his shirt by leaving the three top buttons undone and donning 6 gold chains of various links and lengths, the uppermost of which is a namechain with Arsenal in italic flowery writing.

A yorkshire terrier walks along 20 yards behind his owner. She's talking on the phone and not paying any attention. He cocks his leg and pees against the cafe's sandwich board sign, then darts under the cafe tables and in passing smells the trouser leg of a business man. A look of dontchyou-dare-piss-on-me crosses said business man's face before the dog moseys on.

I drink my iced-coffee as the long shadows of evening stretch over the street.

Thursday, 24 June 2004

Neighbourhood Summer

The rain has washed away the dirt and grime that the city in the summer had become. Greasy slime in the gutters smelling like vinegar, rotting vegetables and shit; rubbish bins dusty, with drips running down from the openings; bus stops with build ups of ash and collected dirt; gobs of spit; stains sticky or greasy.

The pavements seem cleaner now the rain has gone. Returned to their pale grey speckled (trodden down chewing gum spots) state. Even the detritus left by the rain and the wind has been cleared - all those seed balls that fall off plain trees and little bits of twigs lying like tidal marks on the pavement after the rainwater eventually drains away.

Its dirty in the neighbourhoods.

Wednesday, 23 June 2004

Everyone For Tennis

Oh the heady days of summer when park courts overflow for two weeks and all the little kids want to be tennis pros when they grow up because Wimbledon fever and Henmania are here (only it might be a little bit split this year because of Euro 2004). Rained off for the first two days so far.

I just can't muster the enthusiasm for it that I used to have. We don't have Ivan Lendle to cheer for anymore - that tortured clay-ace who always tried so hard and failed to make the grade on grass (big fav of my mother's after Bjorn Borg and McEnroe).

Passing Crouch End on the bus. Stopped at the Broadway. A chap got up to get off - wearing short shorts and a zip-up trackie top with the collar up, brown legs, a flash tennis racquet poking out the top of his sports bag. As he passes the passengers waiting to get on he spies a fellow tennis enthusiast - brown plastic bottle of cider in a plastic bag with three green tennis balls, obviously pissed and carrying the most ancient wooden racquet I've seen in ages. Up-to-date tennis player does a double take a broad grin spreading across his face as he walks off into the wet night. Pissed tennis player staggers onto the bus and sits down, broad grin on his face (methinks its the cider talking because he certainly didn't clock the other tennis chap).

Monday, 21 June 2004

Bus Journey Conversation

Two little kids and a guy.
"These are my favourite ones. They're the best. UM um. I like the colour."
"What doze? You gonna drop them."
"Yeah these ones."
"You gonna give her some? You gonna drop them."
"I'd share but Kate doesn't like them."
"Come on girls, we getting off. You're gonna drop them."
"Is this our stop?"
Sprinkle of sweeties on the floor.
"What did I tell you?"
Monday's Life Class

Its been quite a while since I made it to life drawing. In the time I was not going I invested in a dip pen, some ink and a caligraphy brush. So today I did pen and ink drawings. Its difficult when you first do something to master the techniques surrounding new materials but I quite like the effect so I'm likely to keep going until I capture something I like. We followed the usual pattern - one 10 minute pose, 2 five mins, 2 two mins, 2 one min and a longer one after the break. Not keen on the long one after the break - like always when you get back to drawing the long one can be over laboured and loose the vitality of a shorter pose.

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.
Monday Monday

Tell me why I don't like mondays. Its manic or blue. I hate it the minute I wake up on monday morning.

I walked to work today. I went the way that takes me past the scene of the car accident that totalled the car. I was driving along Stapleton Hall Road at 1.00 in the morning. The road was empty and then as I was passing the junction with Victoria Road I became aware that the car travelling up to the junction wasn't going to stop and he hit the back right wing causing me to go over a metal bollard into a wall. It was sort of too quick to be scary and yet it all seemed like slow motion. The crack is still in the wall there but they've changed the junction -better lighting, great big white lines that expand as they get to the stop lines on Victoria Road, signs saying give way (it can't have been the first crash there). I sometimes like to pass it. I feel like I have a sort of personal relationship with the junction.

As I was passing a particularly overgrown house Scarlett Johnson who plays Vicky on EastEnders came through the overgrowth with what must be her mum. I always thought her american accent was appalling but I don't like the character any more now that she's been allowed to drop it.

Passed the corner with the Old Dairy. Loving their tiles still although I rarely go in the pub itself.

Outside Tesco a homeless guy with a black and white dog (like a working sheep dog that my grandad used to have, as did most men where he lived) struck up a conversation with another dog owner - the dog was goldeny brown with long legs and a pinky mouth and nose. The brown dog was 4 months old and bouncy.

I turned down Charteris Road so I could pretend I was at the seaside - the top end has small cottage style houses that are painted pale pink, blue, turquoise and lemon with front gardens full of flowers and the odd palm.

And finally as I turned down Clifton Terrace there was a jam of buses and some legs-quaking but purposeful junkies coming up the street. Back to the reality of Finsbury Park.

Sunday, 20 June 2004

One For the Road

Popping in late for a nightcap in the Living Room, Essex Road, not because we love it but because its open and closer to the bus stop. We stood at the bar for the obligatory age watching the barwoman wow the waiting gents with her glass tossing routine (she had it down pat but it wasn't terribly impressive the 10th time). Standing drinking in the crush we surveyed the scene only to discover that there was a serious lack of eye candy this evening.

At the far end of the bar a ferociously snogging couple looked in danger of eating each other's faces off before they paused for breath. Kissing with abandon pressing up against the bar not a care in the world. We left with the image in our heads of them turning out to be zombies with bits dropping off having eaten each other's chins.
Red Sky At Night Shepherd's Delight

A beautiful sunset is a wonderful thing. We watched it as we walked along Noel Road (home of Joe Orton), along the Regent's Canal to see if the refurb of the Narrow Boat Inn was complete (it wasn't) and then along St Peter Street to the organic pub The Duke of Cambridge.
38 Bus Journey

On the way to Islington from seeing Confidences Trop Intimes we sat behind a chinese man who was speaking on his mobile phone very loudly. He sounded abrupt and angry. But that could have just been the tone and volume of his voice. As he turned towards the window I saw he had a patch of skin scraped off his temple.

As we passed Spa Green on Roseberry Avenue I saw they had taken down the climbing frame from my old junior school playground. That was where I broke my leg 24 years ago when I was 10. Fateful - it meant I had to miss our school journey to Swanage (probably not that big a deal but in the school calander a true missed legend). All the girls in the class then ganged up on me to make me feel even more left out when the photographs of the trip came back. I'm not in touch with any of them any more. Amazing how the school seems not to have changed in all that time.

Saturday, 19 June 2004


Roll up roll up its the greatest show on earth!

First there was Archaos, a french circus troupe who my Dad first saw at the Edinburgh Festival. They were exciting, dangerous and anarchic. Great music played. Motorcyclists did acrobatic tricks like bareback horse riders of old. Clowns wore corregated steel and gought each other with chainsaws. Poeple hammered things. Sparks flew. 4 men in macs pretended to masterbate over the rope act. People ran around shouting. A car full of water drove across the set. Some man jumped in my lap and gave me a flower. Exciting and remarkable.

Next there was De La Guarda from Argentina. A performance more than a circus. Light shows and atmosphere built up. In a room with a white cloth ceiling amazing colours shot around. Two people ran up the wall and then came back down again. People ran round and round the circumfrance of the room defying gravity. Bounding on bunjee ropes across the building from balcony to balcony in two leaps. Tango music. Dancing. Energy. A dancer tap danced under a column of water, water splattered everywhere. A fine mist rained down on us all. Exhilarating. Inspirational. Amazing.

Today we went to see ImMortal by No Fit State. More like circus than a performance - there were acrobats, trapese artists, rope artists, a woman who swang by her hair, juggler's, tumblers, a hoola-hooper. Lighting, music, french flavour. All dressed up in old fashioned costumes - lots of old style clothes, dickensian, 40s, frilly knickers and bustiers. Marvellous.

Theres something fascinating, sexy and awe-inspiring about circus. I love it.

Friday, 18 June 2004

Big Brother Fight

I put it to you, that all this taking sides and aportioning blame is divisive and reactionary. I would like to put up an alternative view which is that they are all as bad as each other.

The big boys should keep control of themselves because they are agressive and intimidating. Was it retaliation after provocation? I think so, although I think Jason was doing his bit at trying to be more interesting (ie a false overreaction). But there's really no excuse for scaring people.

The camp gay/trannie clique suddenly swelled by return of the bedsit girls and therefore squealing squeaking and generally jumping up and down in way-overexcited hoopla - this could drive anyone crazy when its at such extreme levels and for quite some continued length of time.

Return of the food fight. And I don't mean to be a boring adult about it but I hate food fights. Its just so pointless and wasteful. Although it could be a reaction to an environment they feel is against them - all the writing on the walls, messing the place up - like graffiti but without the spray paint.

Power of the bedsit girls - knowledge is power. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And honestly Emma is thick and therefore her assessment of situations may be a little bit underdeveloped. Although, I liked her sniping at Victor about how he wouldn't talk to ugly girls (like he's god's gift) - that was excellent. Michelle is expert at manipulating Emma into doing exactly what she wants. Emma runs around angry pointing and shouting at people. I thought she was doing her fair share of being aggressive.

Nicotine withdrawal causes people to be nutters (Nadia and Shell, sweet Shell who throws pillows and screams in a tantrumy hissy-fit).

Vanessa protective, screaming, shouting and totally two-faced. Like a bad headteacher who thinks everyone should listen to her without having to listen to them.

The return of the bunny-boiler at first didn't seem to fill Stuart with joy until of course he got a bit pissed and then was all over her. Will he won't he. I think she should get him really drunk. And then he might just. Unless of course she, with her new found confidence and manipulative control, decides she's going to just string him along.

Ahmed has totally withdrawn but really is that a suprise. He doesn't drink. He goes to bed early. He should help out around the house though. No excuse for that.

So. In my humble opinion. They're all nutters. They all bitch about each other - even Marco, Nadia, Emma and the Bunny Boiler bitch about people. Even Shell does. In fact perhaps the only one who doesn't is Ahmed who seems to have to have it out with those he has issues with (and he doesn't have anyone to bitch with). But that's sort of human nature in a place like that. Which is why its nuts that the bedsitters were so upset to hear so much bitching. They are all at it. They are all as bad as each other.

And this was going to be a short post.

Wednesday, 16 June 2004

Hello iTunes and Why I Love Albums

Old news now but iTunes launched today. Giving us the ability to legally purchase tracks online to load onto our 'puters or those nifty iPod things (haven't got one yet but rather fancy a pink or green mini).

I'm not a muso. Never been able to answer that question, "What music are you into?" effectively. It always leaves me dumbfounded. I can't box my taste into those neat genre names that people have (cos I don't know where they fit), there have been times in certain record stores where I haven't even known where to look for the artist I want (too many divisions of dance to fathom where exactly it might be, for instance).

BUT I like going into record shops, browsing around in the different sections, touching the CDs and the vinyl, turning them over and reading the playlists, seeing who is playing on them, looking over other people's shoulders at what they are buying (we give so much about ourselves away by what we listen to, dress like, etc), chancing it into a less understood section like jazz or world.

And buying stuff. Its a naughty pleasure - something that is totally unnecessary and therefore very self-indulgent. I like the fact that I buy an album sometimes that I've only heard one track of. Discovering the other gems on it later after listening to it for a while. I like it when it takes a while to get into the whole thing - that you have to listen to the other tracks until they are as familiar as the one that made you buy it. I like listening to the album the way an artist intended it to be. And to read the sleeve notes. And to find something suprising and unlisted at the end (occassionally).

I am fascinated by record shops - full of know-it-all shop assistants in teeshirt uniforms, and musos deeply into their thing.

So iTunes. Its different, variety is good. But does it spell the end of music buying as we know it today? Don't know. There are still vinyl junkies. Record shops have brought back vinyl after almost banning it completely. Its always more exciting to watch a proper vinyl DJ spinning his discs than to watch someone twiddle with their laptop (I've seen it - I think it was Orbital playing - 4 men and their laptops in a row - a most unriveting show, difficult to get absorbed in). So if it is going to spell the end of all preceeding mediums I will mourn them passing. However, if its an addition to how music will be available I salute it. Hello iTunes.

Tuesday, 15 June 2004

Things I saw at the Barbican Yesterday

  • a broken thumb
  • a surreptitious nose pick & eat it
  • a prissy man in beige slacks and a tucked-in shirt that was puffed out just so
  • tinted glasses (ugh)
  • an underpant readjustment
  • a sweatband cyclist
  • a paisley body (all in one top and pants like a leotard) under a vaguely see-through skirt, the body had ridden up...
  • the sunburn patches of a city tan, many times
  • Philip Glass' Orion

Sunday, 13 June 2004

Big Brother Goes Evil

What a superb idea. Really. Its just started to take shape. And I think its coming along nicely. A good antidote to the fact that all housemates are now seasoned watchers and think they know how it works.

Where to start? There were nominations. 3 people were up for 'eviction' to be voted for by us. But unbeknown to them we were voting to put them into an ajoining bedsit. And we voted for two girls - Michelle and Emma. Ahmed-the-crazy got to stay in and rapidly went back to his quiet old self.

The girls get to sit in the bedsit and watch and listen to the other housemates all day. And then they are set challenges by BB. The first one was to choose who would only be able to take cold showers.

Michelle has shown her true colours as a revenge seeking bunny-boiler. Leading Emma down the path of letting Victor be the reciever of the cold showers. Checking and making mental note of all the times Stu spends in the company of the other girls, how close their heads are, how near he is to them, whether he moves closer to them at all, times he goes in the jaccuzzi (in comparison to the number of times she pursuaded him to get in there). The poor boy doesn't realise it but he is gonna be FOR IT. Woe betide the time she sets foot back in the house.

Emma is an emotional wreck. Upset for all her friends who get hurt or are missing her or feeling vulnerable. Angry at people's critique of her (don't know whether its true or not - most likely not but who knows - any E4 watchers out there?).

Victor vs the Shower has been hilarious. Its a clever shower. He spends some time bigging himself up, ready for the confrontation. He comes in, sets it running and when its nice and warm he steps in only for it to go cold cold cold. He's shouted at Big Brother. He's attempted to shower all day. Boy is he pissed off, and he's gonna stink (well maybe if they had anything to do he might).

Revenge is sweet, or so they say. They better watch out because the wrath of Miche is gonna be a lot worse than anything BB can think up (at least I think so). You can see it in the eyes.
60 Second Sunday Supplement

Body Shop Revisited
Since the mid-80s The Body Shop was a trusted retailer for smellies, cosmetics and products free from cruelty to animals. Leading the way on the highstreet. Over the last 10 years I have steadily fallen out of love with it due to their insistence on changing their product lines. Its just too painful to have your favourite things discontinued. RIP that particular shade of brown eyeshadow, the Viennese chalk and the (high crime) tea rose perfume oil. Nothing worse than being left floundering around trying to find a replacement for perfection because they have decided on a makeover. So having stopped shopping there for a while, I recently found myself drawn back in. My current 3 top Body Shop purchases are:

HEMP CHANVRE - a hand protector for dry to extremely dry skin. Night time. A largish glob rubbed in thoroughly leaves a glycerin-like residue. Upon waking the next morning years of bad is undone and the skin is softer and smoother.

Amlika LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER - if you suffer from hair prone to frizziness and uncontrollability this preparation will help. Rub it through towel-dried hair where needed to increase shine and body.

ULTRA-SMOOTH FACE BASE - foundation that smoothes on like silk.

Me and Georgia (O'Keefe)
In the garden the Oriental Poppy is in full bloom, a couple of years of bedding in and its becoming a prolific flowerer.

Saturday, 12 June 2004

Flag Waving and the George Cross

I'm not much of a flag waver. There's something that doesn't sit right about it.

The last time I actually waved a flag was sitting on Roseberry Avenue in 1977 waiting for a drive by of the Queen during the Silver Jubilee. We had little union jacks on sticks. We sat for hours and hours and hours waiting (it was during school and we were taken out for the procession). And when she came past she was in a big black car, driving rather fast and she was wearing a green hat (very disappointing to a 7 year old that she wasn't wearing a crown) and I barely saw her. She was a flash of green and then she was gone. And ever since then I have held little regard for all the pomp and ceremony of military processions and patriotism.

Which brings me to the George Cross. The Union Jack is bad enough - a symbol of a united kingdom, but the George Cross is a symbol that is almost too couched in the negative connotations of the BNP and football hooliganism to really be dragged back into use. With the resurgence of an accepted contempt for asylum seekers (racism) I think it is very interesting that the George Cross is also being brought back into mainstream use. Undertones resurfaced. I just can't get away from the image of the George Cross being flown by a pub called The Britannia on an East End estate largely inhabited by ethnic minorities. It leaves a bad taste.

I find overt patriotism and proclaimed love of country difficult, especially in this time of voter apathy. Is this not a hypocracy? We don't vote because we feel we have no control, or there is nobody to vote for, or they are all a much of a muchness, but at the same time we stand by our Great Land and wave our flag with pride. Blind patriotism.

So its only football. On TV today a presenter asked a man why he didn't have any England regalia with him and he said that he first supported Newcastle and then supported England. Which is the same response the boyfiend would have. 1st Arsenal, then England. Somehow Arsenal feels more inclusive.

Friday, 11 June 2004

Ray Charles is Dead

My mum loved Ray Charles. She once took one of her best friends to see him when they were at college. Her friend didn't know who he was but when one of his bouncers came on stage she took rather a fancy to him and thought it was going to be alright. Then Mr Charles came on stage, hunched over, old looking (this was back in the 60s so he probably did well to last like he did!).

When we were kids she used to drive us up to visit her parents in the Highlands, we would have to go by her friend in Melton Mobrey (the one she took to see Ray Charles), Ulverston in the Lake District (to visit Great Auntie Lizzie), Fife to visit another great college friend, and finally on into the great north. This drive would take 13 hours. On the way we would sing along to lots of her favourite music. She had been asked to mime in the choir during performances so wasn't confident about singing but we didn't care. We would listen to a wide variety of things including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Boney M, Dolly Parton, and of course Ray Charles. We knew all the words. It was a blast. She wanted to be a singer in her next life. One of those old style Diva types who wore long sequened gowns and had big voices.

I love Ray Charles. His lyrics are of an era before feminism but the tunes are catchy. Its sentimental to me. He died from some kind of liver complaint, as did my mother, although I suspect his was caused by self-abuse while hers wasn't.

Thursday, 10 June 2004

Mid Week Shopping

Selfridges is relatively full of tourists, ladies who lunch, and swift lunch-break shoppers eating on the hoof.

In the cafe a PHD student is discussing her paper with her father. Her east coast american accent rings out. He has the most enormous waist. In the far distance is a blond woman wearing 60s bardotesq makeup with far too many glittery do-dahs in her hair. She has a lace top over a red camisole adn looks like a moulin-rouge whore. Several staff are trying to pass a quiet lunchtime. Zombies with food. Staring, blank, zoned out.

Tuesday, 8 June 2004

Transit of Venus

My neighbours have a telescope. They asked me over to have a look (fortunately cos I wasn't doing very well at focusing the sun onto a card through the binoculars).

A tiny black dot is silhouetted against the massive bright disc that is the sun, moving slowly across the bottom. Venus and earth are comparable in size. So Earth is also as small as this against the massive sun.

BBC Science and Nature - Transit of Venus

Venus is the Taurean planet (apparently). Goddess of love. From a transit like this they figured out how far we were from the sun. Remarkable achievements of the forefathers. I can't imagine how people figured out these things. The power of the intellect of others is astonishing. Wish I had the capacity for it - I have the fascination but not the patience or methodology.

Its easy to fall into that trap of thinking we are the centre of the universe. As the sun moves out of focus on the telescope I say, "its amazing how quickly the sun moves", and am corrected by the owner of the telescope - its actually we who are moving. Of course (I know that - its just not what it looks like). I seldom feel us moving like I used to believe I could when I was a teenager - sit very still with eyes closed contemplating - I then could become aware of the earth moving (so I thought). The most recent time I felt the earth moving was in the recent earthquake - I knew from the way my body rolled in the bed, and the way the house shook for an extended time that this wasn't a train going past on the nearby railway. And I ran out and asked my Dad if he felt anything but he hadn't, it was only in the morning on the news that I found out what it was.

With city dwelling we are more and more removed from knowing the earth - man-made pleasures fill our time with fewer opportunities to enjoy the simple things like watching plants grow, changing seasons, skies full of activity.

Monday, 7 June 2004

You Got to Pick a Pocket or Two...

Something has happened to me. I've become acutely aware of pick pockets and bag snatchers. It follows a couple of times Bails was targeted - once when they got off with her wallet and the other time we discovered her mobile phone under his foot (he claimed it must have fallen out of her pocket, and of course it landed right under his foot - amazing, huh). I have seen numerous attempts at bag pinching or pick pocketing, generally before it gets to the point of the actual theft, so I feel bound to warn the person who is being targeted. I should get a costume - something fitting for a crime fighting vigilante (although those generally seem to be men and have to have some kind of tights-with-pants-on-the-outside - not sure this is a good look for me).

Anyway, perhaps better than this is to share the awareness with the world at large. So here follows my assessment of pickpocket scenarios - watch out there are thieves about (that's my not-very-original-slogan - I'm gonna be on a big poster with my crimefighting costume on).

1. The Bag Slide
You and your mates are sitting round a table in a bar or restaurant or cafe, you put your bag on the floor by your seat, perhaps between your feet, perhaps by the side. Someone comes and sits at a table close to you and uses their foot to drag your bag towards them. They either take the whole bag, or take your purse out of it and slide it back.
Foil this by keeping your bag in your lap or if you have to put it on the floor make sure you squeeze it between your feet.

2. The Bag Snatch
A. Very similar to the above but the person is happening past and just grabs the bag and makes off. I saw this happening in Covent Garden. The target was having a meal at an outside restaurant and there were two thieves operating together (d'you like my crimefighting lingo?). One stood with his coat shielding the other one who was bent over dragging the bag from under the woman's chair. As we passed by I realised they had the bag, and said, without thinking, "PUT THAT BACK" several times rather loudly. They dropped the bag and ran off in different directions (cos I'm really scary y'know). The woman whose bag was almost lifted didn't realise anything had happened at all, and was mightily confused when we handed her bag back.
B. A couple walking along the street hand in hand, its a balmy summer evening, she's hanging on his hooked arm and swinging her bag back and forth with the loose hand. A fellow pedestrian sidles up a little too close (its not a crowded pavement). One more back swing of the bag and he'd rip it out of her hand and be off with it. Apart from the fact that I made the Boyfiend walk up behind him and say, "I know what you're doing" (he really can be scary when he wants to be).
Foil this by being aware of who is around you and not swinging that bag.

3. The Pick Pocket
So I've been studying this on the buses - seems to me that the strip between Harringey West and Wood Green is prime pickpocketing territory (that'll be the 29 or 141). They are crowded at that point I suppose. Men are as much a target as women. Both times I've really seen it there have been a pair operating together. They stand around the back doors getting in the way basically. When it becomes crowded they carefully root around in loose jacket pockets or open handbags. The first pair one was just the getter-in-the-way, and the other one had a folder which he held under one arm and used that hand to go into people's pockets (he didn't get anything while I was watching him). The second pair again one was the getter-in-the-way standing right by the doors so that other passengers had to stand that much closer to his mate who did the pocket dipping. Again he didn't get anything while I was watching.
Foil this by being aware of who's around you. Always keep valuables in a zipped up pocket preferably an inside jacket pocket, or bag. Try to stand away from those who want to stand close to you (tricky on the tube in the morning admittedly).

4. The Overwhelming Tactic
I have been a victim (not successful) of this tactic myself. Often undertaken by unruly children. You are sitting at a table in a pub or cafe, your stuff is spread around the table - reading material, pen, pad, mobile phone. They swarm in (having seen you from outside) - most important aspect of this is the group thing - and crowd around your table asking for money, brandishing some kind of card with a written plea and while you are looking at the card they swipe the mobile off the the table.
Foil this by not leaving your valuables on the table in view, don't get distracted by large groups of swarming children.

The only thing I've never been quite sure of is how to inform the police - they'll be gone before they can get there, sometimes it all happens so fast you don't really realise its happening till its over including you're own reaction.

Take Care of Yourself (and each other). Watch out there are thieves about! (not being very original today as you can see).

Sunday, 6 June 2004

Saturday Bus Journey to Angel

Mangled iron fencing bent and twisted by the impact of the front end of a jeep with massive bull-bar. Strewn remains of an accident involving a little silver car full of women and children, a centre-island and this huge green jeep.

Way in the distance a plume of blue smoke gently rises from a barbecue that someone is having in Clissold Park far across the first field.

A teenage boy folds himself into a helicopter ride outside a local supermarket. Those sorts that are designed for toddlers and have just enough motion to warrant having to pay for the privilege. A vague rocking to and fro and perhaps a horn to honk. His mates hang around eating chips out of newsprint.

Later in Borders, Frank Skinner is following a woman around the magazine section talking to her in a low voice. He is short and in droopy denim. Grumpy looking. Or perhaps not grumpy but in a non-performance mode. My Dad once told me about Mia Farrow coming to his tap class (way back in the 70s) she was sort of plain, non-descript until you spoke directly to her and then she lit up, eyes sparkled and became the Movie Star - performed. Perhaps if I had said, "Hi Frank!", he too would have clicked into performance mode and sparkled for a moment as we expect celebrities to.

Friday, 4 June 2004


Its been a week of humidity, overcast but stuffy. Today the clouds are dark and threatening but its still hot out. Expectant. Only a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder will release us from this pressure. Its been dark and foreboding since 6.30. First couple of splats of rain have just fallen (at 9.38). Just wish it would come so it can be clear and hot (hard to get a tan or to sweat out a cold without sunshine). Good day to go and see The Day After Tomorrow then.

Thursday, 3 June 2004


Let me first apologise to anyone who finds this boring in the extreme. I am on holiday but at home for two weeks, in the first couple of days I came down with a heavy cold and so am watching too much TV.

Kitten brought the wrath of BB on the house with her anarchist antics (breaking things and not obeying orders) - someone will be chucked out if she continues (not necessarily her - shock horror, housemates struggle to understand the implications and then sit round for ages talking about it). See how long they can keep her in check.

Ahmed cooks dinner. It takes 5 hours, as this is happening Jason is mentoring him in how to play the game - get involved, talk to people.

Marco and Michelle bitch about the dinner in the snug. Marco (clique leader and bitch extraordinaire) has the audacity to say he feels he's being kept out of the group.

Ahmed had it out with Marco about the way he's been blanking him. Marco is in the jacuzzi, Ahmed stands on the side.

This level of conflict/pressure is too much for Marco and he ends up crying to Big Brother in the Diary Room about how he feels alone, missing his friends and family and not trusting anyone. Interesting emotional outburst I thought. Someone who spends all his time bitching and setting people against one another has proved to be totally insecure. Shocking that he feels excluded from the group (who does he think the group is exactly?) For a law student he is overly emotional with an inability to remain detached (my limited personal knowledge of lawyers is that they are extremely cool-headed even in extreme personal circumstances like arguments - a friend of mine dated a female lawyer for while who he was for some reason always trying to get into a row - she would never, ever raise her voice or be anything other than rational - much to his irritation, they didn't last).

Jason and Daniel have a heart to heart early in the day - Jason is adopted, told at 14 and isn't missing his large family cos they aren't close. They then go on to relationships. Jason doesn't ask girls out. Daniel (gay) says something like you don't get anything if you don't ask.

Later on, towards bedtime Jason asks Daniel to spread fake tan on his back for him. Daniel says he has cold hands. Its touching but in a very controlled manner. Jason barks instructions. Daniel laughs because it must look like he's blowing Jason. Jason then does his hair - like he's getting ready for a night out - where does he think he's going? They're going to bed. Isn't it a waste of precious product...

Wednesday, 2 June 2004


A Miss-Jean-Brodie, in a prim sweater and 50s style skirt (a non-flamboyant one - not tight, not too flared, mid-calf, grey), black tights and court shoes. Long dark hair is parted in the middle and drawn loosely back from her face into a bun at the back in such a way as to cover her ears on both sides.

She was bending over her bag in the street, saying to her companion, " really is very infuriating..." When she stood back up she was 6 feet tall with a heavily powdered complexion and thin red lips. Her waist was drawn in to an unnaturally thin 18inches by a corset that was just visible beneath her sweater (disarray left from bending over in such a manner) - black leather like a belt, laced. A 6 foot hour glass. The ideal 50s figure. Restrictive. Upright.

It was only then that I paused to think whether this was a woman after all. Still wasn't certain after they disappeared into a bus.

Kings Cross

The drunks are collapsed in a doorway, wetness all around them. Unsure whether it was water, spilled beer, or what. Three filthy men who look as if they've been rolled around in dust. Two women in brighter summer clothes, but scabby - one on the bridge of her nose, the other on her cheek. One of the men and one of the women are a couple, they are slouched together on a step their special brew between their legs, a hand of ownership on each other's leg.
Hob Nobbing at the Royal Opera House

Pops took me to the ballet. At the Royal Opera House. The last bastion of middle class theatre going where it is still the done thing to dress. And the chosen dress was either a devoire spagetti strap number or a summer suit. Lots of strappy sandals, naturally but quite a penchant for the old no no of tights avec le sandal (not good, not good at all - reinforced toes are not attractive, especially when worn with a very delicate and lovely pair of bejewelled high heels.

An excited hubbub rose from the audience who were by all accounts packed in (I was shocked to discover its like the old fashioned theatres - not a spare inch given over to affording some luxury - which is shame considering the great expense that the audience go to). Its grand and and gold with huge stage area and red curtains. Just like the threatre is supposed to be.

At the end people shouted bravo and clapped for several bows. It reminded me of the reaction of the audience of We Will Rock You - so determined to have a great night out that they left their critical discernment at the door (and at We Will Rock You that resulted in a standing ovation of all things), and to be honest it was pretty and grand but not all that.

I sort of feel that I have been spoiled for good theatre - we went a lot while I was growing up, seeing lots of plays with all sorts of different sets, ways of performing and have a leaning towards the more serious, but less traditional forms, I like a bit of boundary-breaking, or challenge.

My brief review here.