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).
Saaf London Yoof (Bermondsey Boy)

Talking on the phone, "Na, I got in trouble...slap rand the 'ead for lettin a firework off in a shop and it weren't even me, it wus that twat Keiran... I gotta go t dinner tonite but I don't wanna. I wanna get a load of green and smoke it... Yea I'm seein' a gel, called, um, her name is someink like Tennerife... yeah thats right Tenisha. She was well drunk last night. She was goin' like that [gesture of jerking off] it were well lovely. hehehe [bart simpson laugh]. I wanna get two patties when I get off or someink I'm starvin, where you gonna be?"

Well lovely.
A Rememberance Poppy

Slipped from someone's lapel laying face down on the floor of the crowded tube. Nobody sees it, until at Bank a smart woman leaving the train bends over and plucks it off the floor and smooths it down as she cradles it in her hand.

Thursday, 4 November 2004

Tube People Individuals

She looks downcast. In the packed carriage perhaps nobody notices. She covers her face with her hands. Her fingers reach up to her eyebrows. She digs her fingers into her eye sockets and rubs her eyes roughly. The flesh on her cheeks rolls round under her palms. And then she looks up. Could be crying. Could be tiredness. Her thoughts are inwards but show on her face. Unresolved thoughts. She grips her mouth with one hand. Unconsciously distorting it as her thoughts toss and turn. After, her mouth looks fuzzy, lipstick lightly smudged, like a painter doing an impressionist portrait. What thoughts? What troubles?

Wednesday, 3 November 2004

Drayton Park - Morning Images

The new Arsenal Stadium looms giant over Drayton Park train station. Even half finished it has form and structure, a huge oval curve like the modern buildings we saw in Spain in the summer. Two huge new bridges span the cutting the station fits into. And sadly, where there used to be a patch of scrap land that a few trees had self-seeded into (siver birch that flickered in the breeze and gleamed out of a dull corner) the builders have cleared and trampled and driven heavy plant leaving behind a mud-patch.

Tuesday, 2 November 2004

Bus Station Rigmarole

The bus sits for a few minutes on the bus stand. The lights go on and off. The driver sits in the dark looking out the window at the queue of potential passengers building. Driver gets out of his seat, takes his cash box out of its position in the door and walks the length of downstairs and upstairs checking. Not sure what for, they never seem to pick anything up and haven't got a spare hand to pick up much anyway. Once the check is complete, go back to the cabin and change the destination sign. An irritating driver will sit back down for a quick fag and a peruse of the newspaper. Others will rev the engine and light the lights whilst the forming queue shifts on its feet.

Today the driver was irritating.
Things I'd Forgotten About Tube Travel

  1. That when two colleagues manage to travel together they will discuss relatively private things with one another even when you are standing with your face 10cm away from one of theirs.

  2. That in the above situation it is quite appropriate to look the other way whilst earwigging and they will pretend you can't hear their conversation.

  3. The Metro - just enough of a read to keep one occupied for 3 stops.

  4. In crowded trains, a person who is vertically challenged may well lean on you for support when they can't reach the handrail. So far I've had a very obnoxious woman do so and today a short man who felt it was ok to lean back on me completely.

  5. City men like oxen - broad of shoulder and feet planted like rocks (no chance of moving one inch to allow other passengers to board).

  6. Staking your place on the platform, hoping to be exactly right for when the doors open to let you on. Jostling for a better position when the platform is too crowded to get on the current train in readiness for the next train. Flashes of irritation when someone who came after you jostles you out of your prime position (bastards - obviously better practised at it or with wider shoulders).

  7. Women doing a full make-up routine whilst the tube rattles down the tunnel (yukaroo).

  8. Which end of the platform the exits are and the corresponding carriage doors to enter through in order to maximise speed of exit from the station (have now got it back down pat for interchanges at Old Street to Northern Line and London Bridge for mainline rail, and exits from station at Peckham Rye, still working on it for Bermondsey Jubilee Line).

Suits Are Like Oysters

Let me explain. Its a theory. A theory that struck me the other day on the way home via the tube. It has to be the way home because on the way everyone is very spruce and smart and most unlikely to have enough disheveledness to reveal what I based my theory on. So anyway, suits are like oysters - dull on the outside with secret beauty to be revealed when opened. I base my theory on the following observations:
  • navy blue suit, shocking pink lining
  • grey suit, pillarbox red lining
  • navy blue suit with feint check, blue and gold shot lining

I rest my case.

Monday, 1 November 2004

Monday's Life Class

Disaster - the nib of my pen broke and I didn't realise it so I struggled to scratch a drawing with a finer nib. This led me to use a brush more. Then I found a funny brush with splayed bristles that made a sort of multiple line line. Interesting.

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.