Thursday, 30 June 2005


"Friendship comprises bonds of affection underpinned by a kind of unconscious barter for intangibles - you look after or amuse me now and you can trade in the goodwill for help or succour when you need it later. It's a system that recognises the impossibility of putting a precise value on anything interpersonal and allows for the flexibility and effeciency that human relations require." Lucy Mangan in Wednesday's G2

Its the give and take of friendships that keeps them going. We've all had those friends who always hang back at the bar, never buy a drink first, always split the bill equally (even when they drank the majority of the bottle of wine), who bring their boyfriend and treat the pair of them as one sharing the rounds between their one (two drinks) and you. Loss of balance makes these types of friendships tilt the balance to the point that they teeter on the edge of toppling off. I had a good friend once who treated me more like their parent which made me feel both old and overly responsible in an emotional crutch sort of way. IT couldn't be sustained.

With a good friend you know that when you buy them a coffee this week you'll get something back another time, even if that is just the pleasure of their company.

Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Storm Obsessed

We've just had a huge roll of thunder but there aren't even any clouds in the sky (well almost none). Perhaps its over the building and not showing in my window yet.

Crack and roar of thunder and lightning. Drops pounding the pavement. Water gushing in the gutters. Roll of thunder across the sky. Dark green air. Light like flourescents. Ill prepared people in their summer clothes and shoes. I'm not ready for my new birkenstocks to get splattered with rain, but at least I'm not drenched to the skin yet. Fork of lightning targets the corner of Euston station. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up prickly with excitment. Finally catch the bus. It washes gutter water over the pavement in its wake.

Later, watching the sheets of lightning flashing in the sky behind a church with a dome half way up Highgate Hill. A second flash of rain. The street becomes a river. All the fag ends from Highgate swept down to Archway. The lightning gets brighter and thunder louder as the storm gets nearer and nearer. The bus on the way home crosses Suicide Bridge and for a moment we are close to the highest thing around - lampposts on the bridge.

Standing at the top of the hill watching the lightning across the north east of London. Quiet now as it retreats. I cross the railway footbridge which must have been a torrent earlier - the debris of the waterflow evident like discarded silt of a river. In the middle a huge puddle that requires paddling through in preference to ruining the new sandals. Barefoot in the street. Lightning flashes. Smell of wet. Rather wonderful.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Long Hair and Swimming Goggles

When my sister and I were kids we were never allowed to grow our hair long. I am forever scarred by the fact that being the only short-haired girl in my infant school year, I didn't get a decent part in the nativity play (very conservative headteacher with very narrow minded views giving out the parts, in my opinion). Who knows what I might have been if I hadn't had this searing disappointment at such a tender age.

We compensated for our lack of hair in a variety of ways. I had a necklace made of limpet shells (the type you find on the beach with holes in them) threaded onto a piece of grey string which I wore on my head - it hung down in such a way that it banged on my back - this is what long hair felt like (I thought, when I was oh maybe three). And in our make believe games, my sis and I would wear tights on our heads and pretend the legs were bunches (good imaginations, you understand, are something to be nurtured).

I haven't discussed this surrogate hair with anyone other than my sister before and have no idea if this kind of hair-envy goes on a lot or we were unique in our affliction. However, reason to believe that it runs in the family - my niece (who at two and a half hasn't got the hair growing power to get long hair even if she wanted it) has taken to going out with a scarf wrapped round her head turban-style, like you do with the towel when you've washed your hair, pretending that its long hair. Oh and she teams it with swimming goggles (unsure of the reason but perhaps to look like Jackie O) which she refers to as gobbles. Long hair and big shades - my kind of look!

Monday, 27 June 2005

At the Checkout

The man in front of me is buying strawberry milk.

The man in front of him is buying a 12 pack of Saint Cervis Premium Continental larger and a 12 pack of natural mates condoms.

Saturday, 25 June 2005

Contemplating Cake

In a coffee and cake shop, almost under the bridges by Borough Market I'm waiting for my friday night drinking companions. Watching the street, people mill about, large raindrops occasionally falling, the air thick and decidedly stormy, though the storm is not quite here.

I'm drinking cappuccino - sharp coffee, topped with frothed milk (nothing quite like the taste of steam-frothed milk) and eating a chocolate cupcake with rich dark icing, decorated with a shaving of white chocolate.

The shelves of the counter are laden with other delectable delicacies, frills of chocolate, flakes and shavings, summer berries glazed or dusted with sugar, a tumble of strawberries, things with a sprig of mint, tarts and gateaux and mousse.

The man next to me gets up to peer through the glass, after his girlfriend exclaims about a strawberry tart, he ponders for a while and then announces his mouth is watering over the Victoria Sponge.

I don't know why, with all the other delicious morsels on offer, anyone would plump for Victoria Sponge. Its a bland cake, often with sponge which is sort of grainy and airy at the same time, insubstantial (which I suppose could also be its appeal) and frequently dry. Its hard to bake a really good Victoria Sponge, its deceptively simple. To be right it requires cake flour, double sifted, and caster sugar. The initial mixture of butter and sugar must be blended really well until the mixture goes light and is almost fluffy, before any other ingredients are added. And filled with good quality raspberry jam (and cream). Generally I'd rather bake something more exciting.

The storm finally comes. A flash like a half firework cracks in the street - so fast it almost wasn't there - must have been a fork of lightning reaching down almost to the street. Low rumbling thunder and the heavy rain. The smell of rain after a long dry spell.

Friday, 24 June 2005

Open Letter

My Dear Neighbours (students, spaniards, foxes),

It is 2:30am on a Thursday evening, the weather is far too hot to sleep with a closed window, in fact its a struggle to sleep at all. I would like to point out that although it may be the close of your academic year (students), or mating season (foxes), or the midst of a rather ridiculous argument (spaniards), for those of us who are wage slaves and must work all year round it isn't yet the weekend and we have to be up tomorrow in time for work, so would appreciate it if you could keep it down a little, just until tomorrow you understand, when parties and loud music will be tolerated on account of it being the weekend.

Much appreciated.

(B*****ds - rubbing my nose in the fact I can't be out in the garden have a jolly time of it all through the blisteringly hot night).

Wednesday, 22 June 2005


Scourge of summer so far. The weather is beautiful (not great for working in but beautiful none the less). My big complaint is the number of flies. I'm sure there weren't so many last year. I currently appear to be cultivating them in the house, a number of varieties.

Blue bottles, the blundering big ones that bump into you (and die in closed rooms - I've got a what seems to be a morgue full of them in the living room).

Fruit flies (nasty tiny little things that run around on stuff while you try to swat them) infested on my two marvelous aloe vera plants. I expect it's because they are sweet smelling and have sap but I'd really like to get rid of the damn things.

Little black things that flit around the light and tend to hang round hot skin (ugh).

And although not strictly flies - the mosquitos (I've got three huge bites now) with that horrid way they have of dangling their bodies and legs, and such nasty intentions.

Yuk. Yuk.
Animal Lover

A girl clutches a pigeon against her chest, her arms crossed over it in order to keep it restrained. It looks out with its beady eye, forlorn. I marvel at her caring for an injured creature so despised by others. Particularly because it was one of those grubby dark grey ones frequently found in London. I think of her nursing it back to health, kept in a cardboard box on a balcony or windowsill. Its lucky she found it.

Monday, 20 June 2005


Officially I think my arms are going to drop off, if the bites on my legs don't swell up and kill me first. Yesterday I mowed, raked and bagged the clippings, watered, and then repotted a huge palour palm from a quite enormous pot into a really enormous pot and carried it all by myself back into the sitting room (and I discovered two plants which I thought had died off at least two years ago have made an reappearance). Today I went with boyfiend to his small garden and lopped loads of branches, deadheaded a mass of roses, weeded, helped dredge a stinking pond and cut back a vine.

And on the bus on the way home I remembered that gardening is all about love, nurture, caring, watching the plants grow, their fronds unfurl, their vines extend and curl round things, buds form and stuff. Both the men in my life with some kind of interest in gardens (boyfiend and pops) tend to be chop-em-down types in the brutalist vein. More about clearing and neatness than natural plant growth. I'm trying to work on them both, with a drip drip kind of nuture. Hopefully they'll grow into it.

Friday, 17 June 2005

Friday Afternoon Argument

Outside my office window (which is open but high up so I can't see out) I imagine the scene - a queue of cars on the oneway system wait while some of them try to turn into Netto's and others want to pass by but can't, a bit of revving and a bit of honking, occassional snatches of music float up (and sometimes the all encompassing shake of a loud bassline), the sun is shining on the streets of Peckham, the market will be in full flow, a man will be operating the stinky rubbish grinder that sits on the corner of Choumert Road and Alpha Street, some men will be congregating outside Abbey's cafe. Suddenly raised voices, urgent, arguing but in a foreign language that I don't recognise, African of some sort, low and resonant but loud. The argument gathers steam, more people join in. It sounds like a gaggle of angry turkey's gobbling. It gets louder, more male. And then it starts to move along the street away from earshot. It fades into the distance but remains a quiet rumbling. A police siren. And then the honking and reggae on the radio come back into the fore-hearing.

Thursday, 16 June 2005

The Threat

And following on a voiceover theme...

A voice, from somewhere in the back of the bus tells someone on the other end of the phone, " better believe it and don't you fucking forget it. Remember, I'm coming to see you and I'll break your fucking back, you pussy!" The phonecall ends. Shortly, another call, "is that fucking wanker with you? Na, I'm the master baiter but he's a fucking wanker and he better watch his back cos he don't know whats coming to him the pussy."

All the Islingtonites shrunk a little further into their jackets.
Ticket Inspection

We pulled in for a brief stop at Elephant & Castle behind a bendy no.12 which had decanted a number of passengers, who stood around in poses of defiance or resigned indignity accompanied by police officers and ticket inspectors, who it appears from their illuminous jackets, have been renamed (hear the deep american male voiceover now) Revenue Protectors. Revenue protectors!

Tuesday, 14 June 2005

Sharing the Street

There are people who are instantly memorable despite the fact that you can't tie them to a particular activity or venue and I mention this only because there are people you remember easily due to the fact you see them frequently at the train station or you buy a newspaper from them on a Saturday.

At Euston this evening I saw a man who I remember from some non-specific passing at some non-definable time. A short man, very little, could be Italian, could be Romany. Keen on the zipped sweater style jacket (more cardigan actually - leather patches on the front). Small pork pie hat. Slight disability - one short leg that he compensates for by walking on tip toe on one side, rather than wearing a stacked shoe.

Don't remember when or where but I've seen him before. Bet he doesn't remember me though. Probably didn't even see me!

The young man behind the sweet counter tells his mother, "I went to have a look at the sportswear, oh and the men's casuals..." He's got badly bleached hair and is wearing one of those terry towelling tops with a contrast upper-chest yoke and a zipper to open the neck on hot days. I wonder if he was shopping in one of the department stores or Mr Byrite or even George's of Asda.

Sunday, 12 June 2005


I don't often go to the supermarket on a Sunday, preferring usually to not go further than the front door - truely using it as a day of rest and total laziness. I have a much greater understanding now of the long Sunday's of my childhood where we slumped huffily round the house hoping one of the parents would for a moment put down the paper and entertain us, rather than expecting one of those involved and slow moving epic biblical movies to do that for them (amazing how long a day can seem).

Today, however, I was in need of some grocery essentials which I could no longer do without - milk, bread, oatmeal (gotten into a habit of eating porriage on the weekend - reminds me of my grandfather), which sadly meant I had to firstly get dressed and secondly face the shopping aisles. It does give one the opportunity to check on the progress of the new shopping pavilion (rumoured to be a mini-Ikea, Homebase and Dixons - I'm truely terrified what will happen to the traffic on Green Lanes if this turns out to be the case - its already gridlocked in Harringay).

Its not so bad when you know what you want. They don't move the supermarket around as much as they used to. I limit myself to a basket because I have to carry it home by foot. And I was just picking up the last item from the toilettries section when the door alarm went off and a stream of men from across the store ran out after what I suspected was a shoplifting suspect.

The checkout chicks and dicks were all a babble of excitement. One who had been in the chase had returned and was recounting the tale - he'd run to his car thrown the goods in and was attempted to get it started before the security guards and crowd of shop assistants got there. Shortly after this a man was marched back into the store and put into a small staff only room, guarded by a security guard and one of the beefier shop boys.

I recognised the man - he had been carrying some kind of electrical good (maybe a DVD player) around the corner of an aisle and excitedly calling out to what I had thought was his wife, "they have this!" in the opposite direction to me at one point.

The babbling carried on while waiting for the police and pending a little in-store investigation, searching for reciepts, questioning the perpetrator. The security guard at one point rushing over to the entrance to accost another person who must have been a known shoplifter, wheeling him round and accompanying him off the premises.

Anyway, despite having the slowest checkout girl in possibly the history of checkouts I was still all packed up and ready to go before the inevietable conclusion, so I left before the cops arrived.

Thursday, 9 June 2005


Police pull over a blue soft top BMW at the bus stop in Wood Green High Street. Two of them emerge from their van and get the driver out. They stand talking to him for bit pointing at the back of his car. He stands between them with his arms crossed.

A third policeman gets out of the van and inspects the front end of the BMW, while one of his colleagues inpsects the back - pulling at the boot, touching the numberplate it comes off in his hand. It seems to have been attached with double-sided sticky tape (the back dotted with suspicious looking white squares).

One of the policemen starts writing out a ticket. The one with the numberplate rocks back and forth on his feet the way policemen are prone to do.

It starts to rain. They wind it up. When the blue car drives off it doesn't have a numberplate on the front or the back. It goes left. The police van follows it.

Thursday, 2 June 2005

The Urge

I haven't had it in a while but sometimes there is this overwhelming desire to reach out and just...

Pick a loose strand of cotton off the back of someone's jacket or trouser leg or something.

Today sitting behind a chap on the bus I had this desire to run my hand over his recently shaved head - the hairs were very short, defined, his scalp visible underneath but I knew it would feel softly bristly. I could feel it in my palm. He didn't look the sort to be worried about his hair being messed up. The longer I sat there the harder it became not to. So I got off.
London Bridge to Waterloo East

Big Dave's Gusset
sprayed on a derelict building.
Chimney pots of Borough.
A black cat sleeps
like a king
on a discarded sofa.
A platinum blond
watery blue eyes
fluffs her Marilynesque hair.
Sunlight golden on brick.
BB6 - The Angsty One

I'm afraid its got me.

Today they all seem to think that it would be best to have-it-out with all the housemates they have a beef with.

There's been Kamal going at Maxwell like a dog with his jaws locked. Kamal I initially liked but who tonight is blotting his copy book. Maxwell who I disliked because he was too laddy but now I'm have sympathy with him because he seems not to want to argue but is being driven to it.

Then there's been Science macho-ing at Roberto in a sort of face off which Roberto doesn't seem to want to take part in, if only he could get a word in edgeways. Science's method of debating involves avoiding eye contract at all costs, talking loudly over the opponent and punctuating all sentances with "ya get me?" There is literally no way to argue with a person like this - determined to be right even if they are being ridiculous. Again, I thought Science was a preferred character, however, his inferior debate technique has put him out of favour. Roberto - I thought a bit too smooth, but again finding a bit more sympathy with him following his attempts to dissolve a situation that was being boiled out of proportion.

The older chaps take to the kitchen and clean up after all the arguing yoofs.

Half the house are types who need to shout the loudest, and feel that in order to go forward things have to be talked (nay argued) through. Its like watching kids arguing - having to have the last word, never listening to the other party and departing when they feel they have won, only to go back to their preferred group and deconstruct it all only to end up feeling just as pissed off as they were before the showdown. Pointless. I think so. Screeching washer women the lot of them.

Makosi like all good royalty speaks about herself in the third person. Manipulative, yes. Could she have stopped many of the rows today? Yes - all that angst ridden hyperbole by Craig and Scary Mary could have been diffused if she had told them about her secret mission (which remains a secret between herself and Kamal). Shit stirring. Definitely. And then complaining that everyone is going on about her big bum, which could probably be abaited at least a little bit if she didn't go round only in knickers all the time.

And the tit wars.

As I drift off to sleep it looks like a lot of aimless souls wandering about in the night one minute trying to find their friends and the next attacking their foes. Little bundles of barbed wire. And its only day 7. I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, 1 June 2005

Big Blogger

It rains, the camera swings across the garden and focuses on the chicken coop and then the pool. A fly crosses the lens. There will be drunkeness, nudity and and...writing? Looks like an event brewing.

(Quick you get to nominate the 'housemates').
Evening Standard Headline Shock

Many times I have been tempted to write about the shockers that are Evening Standard Headlines - I even started making a list of them once but today I found this collection and figured I don't really need to. Just remember, lifes not like it is in the newspapers (it paints a terribly violent and dangerous picture, it really does).