Friday, 29 December 2006


Laid in bed until My Fair Lady had finished. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
What's been happening over Christmas?

Well I'm finally back online at home. The luxury of blogging all over the house, not just in the computer room. So I expect the quality of posts will decrease as they are done in front of the telly (much like homework when we were at school).

Christmas has been and gone. In the two days before christmas I cleaned, tidied, sorted, bought a christmas tree, decorated it, went to a super-large supermarket to buy the makings of dinner two days in advance (shelves were empty, customers were fighting over the last bottle of baileys and shopping as if they were going to be holed up for 3 months), wrapped presents up at midnight on christmas eve (possibly even as Santa was coming down the non-existant chimney), had barely 5 hours sleep and woke with the toddlers at 6.30 to tear open presents without really looking at them. We ate but not too much, drank hardly anything, were tired enough to sit on the sofa feeling sleepy and forgot to play any games (once de rigeur for Christmas day). We also missed the Queen. But the roast potatoes were possibly the best they've ever been - following advice from sister who had seen them done on that science cooking programme.

Now the visitors have gone home and the house is back to the way it was before - still in a degree of chaos from moving in. And we're in that inbetween time between christmas and new year which sort of feels like no-man's-land. New year's eve - possibly the most over-hyped night of the year, almost impossible not to be disappointed by the outcome, almost certainly start the new year with a hangover. Roll on 31st.

Friday, 22 December 2006

Christmas Uncheer (2)

All day since 9.00am the Peckham one-way system has been jammed by people trying to get into Nettos. All the way down Alpha Street and round the corner. Honking. Obviously needing to feed the 5,000 or shop for the Christmas closure as if we won't be coming out again for a month.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Tube Conversation

In a bold attempt, a woman turned to her neighbour and asked him if it would be ok to have a conversation. He unplugged himself from his ipod and looked at her expectantly. It might have got off to a better start if she had begun with something other than, "I don't think the London Paper is terribly good reading material". But after an uncomfortable pregnant pause she confessed to being rather drunk from a work's do (after having to explain to him what a work's do was - it transpires he was a foreign waiter) he jumped on the opener by asking her what she did. Sadly they were only getting warmed up when he had to get off.

On the way out of the station I was glad to notice that not all young men have taken to wearing their jeans hanging-low, I spotted one amongst a group of low-slingers whose bum was firmly in his jeans. Nice to see.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Christmas Uncheer

I sat at lunch today reading the paper. First time in an age I've gone out to the cafe. On one side a baby screamed for attention as her mother chatted over a coffee witha friend. On the other side a man couldn't stop kissing his girlfriend, with slurping. After they ate they had a christmas gift giving extravaganza. the rush of early love had spurned them on to buy buy buy for one another. Each gift unwrapping was met with enthusiastic exclaims and was an excuse for another kiss. The biggest exclamation was hers when she opened a cow-teddy bear. Never have quite understood adult women who obsess about teddies. I was quite put off my lunch. Bah Humbug. Get a room!

Tuesday, 19 December 2006


A familiar figure comes into focus from the blur of periphery vision on the steps to the escalator at London Bridge. A small woman with a black coat and a rucksack, short fine hair. She used to travel on the same train as I did when I was working in Lewisham. I'm suddenly struck by an urge to know how she is doing.

"How are your dreadful children?" I could ask, "Still attending City of London Girls?" Terribly posh, blond girls, with knotted hair that she would try to tame into some semblance of a ponytail despite their wails of protest. Awful attitude they had to their mother, even when they were under 10. "Any more settled in your household?"

Instead I watch her walk ahead of me and disappear up a different escalator. She seemed so quiet and orderly by comparison to my memory.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Friday Night

The bus is full of semi-pissed. The night is yet young. Some are just setting out, all spruced and perfect hair. A woman slumps in her seat silent singing, with dramatic flourishes, to her ipod. Occassionally staring into its screen. I'm imagining some warbling Maria Carey number.
The Man Who Fell Asleep

I met Greg through his website Tube Gossip. I mean meet in the virtual sense of the word, actually I think its more akin to hanging around the cool people hoping they’ll notice you one day. Actually, they don’t even have to notice you, you just hope some of their cool will rub off. It was a simple concept, but highly effective and I wished I’d thought of it. So I first knew Greg through a form of blog envy. And then I discovered that he also wrote The Man Who Fell Asleep. Even more blog envy. I’d love to be one of those people who has an off-beat sense of the world, who sees things through kaleidoscopic glasses and throws you off at a tangent. I love those people. I read the man who fell asleep a lot before it sort of stopped. It made me laugh. It was very London (I collect blogs that are very London, in that quirky English way they can be). If there’s a blog I wish I wrote, it’s it.

I got an unexpected email announcing that The Man Who Fell Asleep has become a book. There was to be a virtual book tour. I would be one of the stops. I felt a sense of affirmation. I was sent a copy. It’s like reading an old friend. There are passages I remember from the blog but they were tied together into a narrative. While a blog feels fleeting and ephemeral, this made that writing substantial. And you could hold it and turn it over in your hand. You might like to buy a copy!

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

End of Term Feeling

Yeah, I've got it. Not because my work ends at the end of a term as such, but in my building the classes have stopped, students are trailing off, tutors are gone, they've put up christmas decorations in a vane attempt to keep some momentum going, and everyone is really really tired. The nights draw in, every night the bars are full of other people's office parties, and it feels like a time for nesting. Still another week to go after this one...

Thursday, 7 December 2006


11.05: green air, hailstones, lightning, thunder, torrential rain.
11.07: rain, hailstones lying on the ground like white shadows.
11.08: bright lightning flash. Big crack & roll of thunder, rumbling on. Police siren in the distance.
11.10: blue sky, white fluffy sun lit clouds.
11.35: blue sky
13.15: blustery wind.
15.13: dark sky one side of the building, strange light reflecting in rain drops the other.
15.14: blue sky, clouds, sun going down.

Tall man sweeps into the carriage and plumps into a seat, unzips his jacket and shrugs it off, re-adjusts himself and crosses his legs, reads his crinkly copy of London Lite. Opposite a man in checkered vans chats to a woman with a haircut like Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner - sharp straight fringe that brushes her eyes. He's talking about separating from his girlfriend who is the mother of his child - he feels its better than staying in a loveless relationship and potentially damaging the child. When he gets off at Kings Cross she starts reading The Catcher in the Rye. She's about half way through. I loved that book. I met an aspiring writer at a party once. He reminded me of Holden Caulfield, he threw himself into life with abandon willing to experience everything.

I am a passenger. And I ride and I ride.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006


Is stressful. That's almost all I have to say on the matter.

I remember as a kid moving from our lovely flat in Myddleton Square to our bare-floored house in Haringey. We cried.

I feel like that now. I'm not ready. Literally, physically and psychologically. I pack a couple of boxes each night, chucking out the horded detritus of decades - unwanted gifts, long lost unworn clothes, possible useful articles, toys-that-may-once-have-been sentimental. But it makes me feel insecure, scared of change. And then there's the rising panic. I still can't find someone, well actually a tradesperson, willing to take a window out and put it back so the sofa can be put in (it seems Saturday's are bad, and the fact that they are not nice easy wooden sash but instead rather a uPVC aboration).

I'm sitting in Starbucks across from the back of Liberties which used to be full of chocolate. Its full of special entry shoppers madly scrabbling for christmas things at 20% off. A stream of joggers pass between them and me - upright, leggings and bumbags. I'm waiting. Concentrating on breathing to settle the panic.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Department Vision

The meglomaniac head of division was giving us a collective pat on the back and telling us about future plans. These plans include subsumption of 700 staff from a different department and a localised network for power so we can seperate ourselves from the grid and become more efficient and less wasteful. We basked in the future glory and visualised the new republic of E&L, a principality within London. Some at the back were dropping off due to the heat rising. The leader asked for some windows to be opened, at which point one of the windows being opened fell off the building.

Thursday, 30 November 2006

laughing man

Ceramics Class

Laughing Man is finished. Not sure I like him as much now that I've glazed him. But thats the haphazard nature of ceramics I guess.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Yellow Electric

Woke up after dreaming about a gorilla that had been sitting in my neighbour's tree and then took to terrorising the neighbourhood - nobody could get to or from work. There was a dark grey sky and strange electric yellow light shining off the few remaining leaves. The rain was pouring. Finally a flash of lightning followed by a whack and rumble of thunder that shook the window.

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Free Bus

They're everywhere these days, easy to board, no collection of tickets, commonly known as free buses to locals of the routes (dreaded bendy buses to the rest of us). Friday night Bails was debating whether she should touch in with her oyster and save her pennies unless a revenue protector (ticket inspector) got on. It seems this free riding has seeped into the public conscious as an tap-on-the-wrist naughtiness rather than the law-breaking we were reliably informed it was (amounts to stealing) when we were debating it elsewhere.

I remember the old days on the routemasters when we'd all pretend to be alseep when the conductor came upstairs. The technique involved slumping over each other, eyes closed, mouth open. You could adopt a number of stances - head back on the hand rail, or chin down head hidden by parker hood, or head against window (very uncomfortable and not to be recommended). It has to be said that you were most successful when alone and far less convincing when travelling in a group of 6 (we'd never heard of narcolepsy at the time).

Thursday, 23 November 2006

laughing man

Ceramics Class

I made this laughing man after I saw some pots from the Congo in the window of a weird shop on the corner of St Anns Road. Its owned by a Turk with grey hair and a died black mustache with ends that he twists carefully. He gets them from a village, they come packed in banana skins. Anyway, I thought I'd make a version. I didn't really want it to come out looking quite so comedy. But I glazed it this lesson so maybe it will look less obvious when its finished.

Sometimes on the tube its all about the shoes. Largely because of walking with your head down, following lots of others up stairs and escalators. Boots are back. But it is winter again. First a black pair. Huge hairy things, with jeans tucked into them, and pomp pomps on strings that flap around the ankles. Then a man with timberlands on that are too big, or not done up properly that make that gushy sound when his foot pushes down - like air being compressed. Then some comedy wellies, sorry ironic wellies (so last year) with pink spots on.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

One Crazy to Another

Bus. Woman gets on. Talking about racists. They all racists. Even to me. Theres no need for it. At first I think she's talking to the woman opposite. Eventually everyone looks away and tries to ignore her. Her rant goes on. I stop listening.

A woman wearning a brown mac and a pair of pink fairy wings as a hat (the tie wrapped round each ear and secured on the left-hand side with a blue plastic clothes peg) tires of the ranting and says to the woman, "you should get off dear - go to the chemist here [gestures out the window] they'd have something for you there. They may even find you a husband." Ranting lady talks on seemingly oblivious. Pink fairy wings lady repeats her comment. Several times. Then changes it slightly, "you should go to Stamford Hill, there's a ministry there, they'd find you a husband".

A moment of lucidity passes over ranting woman. She looks pink fairy wings in the eyes and says patronisingly, "No darlin', I'm going home to watch the set." And then just as suddenly as it came, the lucidity is gone, she's back in her internal world, ranting about the racists, occassionally muttering, "she's schizophrenic, she is."

Tuesday, 21 November 2006


She loves him so much she can allow herself to be totally submissive to his kiss. She leans her head back, her under-chin exposed, neck fully extended. He leans over her. Their open mouths touch lightly. Their eyes are closed. It lasts a few moments. Its too personal to watch.

Monday, 20 November 2006


A woman must have been in the park with her rollerblading kids. The wheels of her basket-trolley had yellow leaves stuck to them, going round and round and round. Probably the park was muddy from yesterday's rain.

* * *

Wind blows a swirl of yellow leaves around the black tarmac as I wait for the bus. A windchime clanks dully from across the street - the grey and white building of the Mount Zion Church of God, with its England flag flapping against its upper window. The wind drags leaves along the street, they must be dry and crisp, sound like cardboard.

Friday, 17 November 2006

Peckham Rye

The revenue at Peckham Rye obviously needs protecting greatly. Twice this week the revenue protection squad was out in force, flanked by police in illuminous yellow jackets, writing fine tickets and handcuffing people. Last week they were doing an airport style security check on arriving passengers, presumably looking for knives and guns. What was it they used to say at the end of roll call in Hill Street Blues? Be careful out there.

Thursday, 16 November 2006


Ceramics Class

Last week I made this pot, this week I spent all class transfering lifedrawings onto it - technique used was to pinprick along the lines of a photocopied lifedrawing (A3), place the drawing over the pot, rub charcoal dust across the holes to provide a guide line. Then traced the drawing with a needle into the clay. It needs 3 drawings to complete - I only managed to do 2. Took some time! Next week will finish transposing the drawings and then send it off for firing. Not so instaneous after all this ceramics.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

How to Eat a Sandwich (On a Train)

We're not talking about the type you get when you're travelling with your Nan. You and sibling sit backwards, Nan and Grandad go forwards. Nan lays paper napkins over the table and presents you with sarnies wrapped in tinfoil (probably saved from previous use), doorstoppers prepared at 5.00am while everybody else slept. Sandwiches that are brought out the moment the train sets off, the departure station barely behind you. No. We are talking about sandwiches downed by commuters on their way home.

So, when it comes to sandwich eating are you a two bite or one bite mouhtful? In public, its probably best to avoid the two-bite, if you want to be able to chew without looking like a hamster. Also, try not to devour an eighth of the sandwich at each bite (remember, if you eat slower it will make you feel fuller). Always chew with your lips closed. Try not to chose smelly fillings like tuna or egg.

I'm amazed at the number of men (generally) grabbing a sandwich on the way home. Aren't they worried it will spoil their supper?

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

London Alphabet
F is for Fashion

So it follows that from great ego comes great fashion. A city full of egos means even the outlandish are ignored and remain largely anonymous, free to express their sense of style in whatever freewheeling eccentricity takes their fancy. Priding ourselves on being first, foremost, cutting edge. Our stores are bigger, flashier, most up to date. Our fashion colleges world renowned, fashion designers scouring the neighbourhoods for the latest in street style. Eclectic, perhaps, or maybe just anything goes and nobody will stare at you (I hadn't realised I was weird until I went to Denmark with pink hair). London allows you to be whatever it is you want to be and however outrageous that is you will find a niche to fit into.

A is for Architecture
B is for Bridges
C is for Crowds
D is for Dusk
E is for Ego
London Alphabet
E is for Ego

Londoners feel they are the centre of the universe, well perhaps not quite, but certainly the centre of the UK, looking down on our suburban and rural neighbours with pity and a certain amount of disdain. (I hasten to add that I don't condone such behaviour, I'm just noticing). Living in the massive conurbation rubbing shoulder to shoulder with nearly 8 million others its easy to forget that anything else exists. Partly because you have to work quite hard to reach its edges and there is this constant magnetic draw towards its centre. I know a number of people who only leave through airports when travelling abroad and probably don't know any of the delights beyond the green belt. So we feel privileged to have such culture, transport and wealth on our doorstep, ignore the poverty and dirt, and are shocked when companies, government and services relocate to the north or Swansea, so indoctrinated are we by the mantra, "tired of London, tired of life".

So I'm offering up Ego as London's E - and anyone who is from anywhere else but here will have some recollection of the self-absorbtion we Londoner's have and our inability to understand the plight of towns and cities beyond our reach, together with our total lack of understanding that someone may prefer to live elsewhere.

A is for Architecture
B is for Bridges
C is for Crowds
D is for Dusk

Monday, 13 November 2006

Shortage of Posts

You are being held in a queue. We are very busy at the moment and all our posts have already been read. We value your readership and if you continue to hold, something more inspiring will be along shortly...

At least I hope so. I'm having writers block. I'm sinking into a routine so mundane that I have no inspiration at all. Coupled with the fact that the minute I am still (horizontally or just sitting) my eyes droop shut (I always find it difficult to adjust to the change of time). It seems always to be dark! I'm spending all my time going between home and new house, painting and concerning self with tiles and uneven floors. Its not terribly exciting I tell you. Not at all.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006


Autumn finally seems to have arrived, and we're nearly in winter. I sat watching the dark fall this evening at 4.00. Slowly it happened but definitely closing in from 4.00. Totally dark by the time I left work. Leaves are falling into the street. Yellow and brown. Seems late for it. But perhaps I'm remembering wrongly.

Sunday, 5 November 2006



The sky is alive with the dull pop and sizzle of fireworks. Occassionally a louder boom. Sometimes passing close to a private display some green or red sparks float into the sky over a rooftop. An acrid smell in the air and smoky mist. I didn't see an organised display this year, too busy painting.

Friday, 3 November 2006

Going Home

Its dark as work ends. We huddle into our coats as we wait for the train. Staring down the track longing to see the faint yellow glow of its windows rounding the corner.

On the train 3 sarf london men chat about trainers. Particularly a pair of red and cream converse that one of them was wearing when he met a bird from Southend. Generous arse, gold heels. His hand gesture seemed to imply he enjoyed her.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Ceramics Class

Before the half term I spent the whole lesson glazing all the bits and pieces that I had made in the previous weeks. It took long and was impossible to tell what the results would look like. This week all was revealed. Some of them turned out nice, others were a terrible mistake. I'm not keen on that oatmealy look that pottery can have!

Still its all trial and error.

Tuesday, 31 October 2006



Foot and Mouth walking tours did a special for halloween. Friends being invited to hear Chris Roberts stories of the dank and seedy world of london myths and legends (embellishment suspected). We strolled along the embankments between London and millennium Bridges with stories of the patron saint of prostitutes, old London Bridge exported as an antique brick by brick (with ghosts) to Arizona, Walbrook Stairs where you could once hail river taxis (site of the Marchoness disaster) and the boundary of the Roman city, Boudicca decapitating the soldiers of a particular stronghold letting their heads float down the river - their souls lost forever, the cat mummified in the walls of St. Michael's Paternoster church built by Dick Whittington, ghosts of a bear escaped from where bear baiting took place in Bear Lane bear. Still a fine way to spend Halloween now we're too old for trick n treating.

Books by Chris:
Heavy Words Lightly Thrown
Cross River Traffic

Saturday, 28 October 2006

New House

This week I have mostly been dealing stuff. I've just had two weeks off. I have physically worked harder than I ever do at work and struck more important deals than I ever do at work.

In my first week off I lifted worn red carpets from every room in the downstairs and the hall, rolled up and chucked out. I started taking nails and screws out of the walls and filling holes. Thinking about what I would prefer it to be look like (I was crushingly depressed about it when I first walked back in as the new owner - it was empty and smaller than I remembered).

In the first week I had electrical people over to change the meter, gasman to reset the gas meter, visits from 3 kitchen fitters (two good, one horrible), quotes from two floor sanding companies, and a vist from the ADT alarm people. Much hand shaking. Plenty of patter. One awkward conversation with a man intending to press us into making a decision that we didn't want to make. He left pissed off. I was sorry he ever invaded my space.

In the second week I had all the downstairs floors (bar the kitchen) sanded, filled and varnished. The kitchen surveyor round to check the drawing of the winning kitchen, the ADT engineer in to upgrade the alarm, and the plumber in to remove a radiator and a pipe which fed water to an american wardrobe-style fridge.

I am now broke. I haven't completed the painting I wanted to get through, but have got some nice floors and a date for a kitchen installation (my parents moved into their house with avacado units in the kitchen which they hated, probably with the intention of changing them at some point, over time they stopped noticing how awful they were and consequently the house still has them). I have also refound my fondness for this house. Oh, and I was offered an apprenticeship by the plumber.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006


Sometimes I just want to go to bed. I imagine it as me being y-shaped sliding between fresh sheets under a feather-light duvet, not being able to touch the edges. Usually I huddle fetally trying to warm up a body shaped patch of bed while the boyfiend warns me not to put my ice-pole feet on him.

Sometimes I imagine, as I walk up the dark cold street, that the boyfiend has come round to mine to suprise me by cooking my dinner and that when I walk through the door he will greet me with a kiss and a plate of spagetti.

I put my winter coat on today. I was much warmer than yesterday.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Saturday Night

Its dark and damp. Earlier in the day there had been two rainbows. I sit on the bottom deck of a 341 trundling along Philip Lane towards home. Through the rain spattered windows, passing a parade of shop windows, I notice other people doing nothing special, like me. A man sweeps the launderette before closing up. A boy with a big afro hangs in his dorway talking to a friend. A girl orders fried chicken in the chicken shop. She holds her money against the counter, and turns to watch the bus go by as her server dishes up. Two doors down a man sits in a forlorn burger joint on a plastic seat that is fixed to its table, as he waits for his burger to be cooked. Yellow light from these windows seeps into the wet street. And then we turn down Black Boy Lane away from any signs of life, past house fronts with net curtains, closed off to prying eyes, past the park (really dark) with its huge shadowy trees all along the edge.

Monday, 16 October 2006


Its been quite a while since I last went to drawing class, but this drawing class at the Tate Modern interested me. Didn't come away with anything particularly great but did get to wonder at the scale of those helter skelters (truely death defying) and try to do something that spoke of the scale of the space vs the small cold figures in the space (bit cruel but they had the models lying naked on the concrete floor, and later on the metal slides).

Sunday, 15 October 2006


A mouse has moved in. I was sitting chatting to Pops during Prime Suspect when I saw it casually running up the centre of the kitchen floor and then dart under the cooker when I pointed at it. We moved stuff - cooker, deckchairs, gardening tool rack, swept (tell tale droppings) but didn't see the mouse. I lost faith in my vision and we decided perhaps it was just a peripheral shadow. A little while later I saw him again creeping out from the cooker. And later still darting across behind the TV. I don't think he's been there long - I would have seen him before.

We'd like to evict him, but we're not sure how. Cat - would be good but we haven't got one. The ones we used to have were notoriously poor mousers, infact they were terrible at catching anything (pampered, well fed and lazy). Traps - just worried about the types at work which they fill with poison and the critters die under the floors and stink but can't be found. Sonic plug-ins - I've heard about them but don't know where to get them.

Saturday, 14 October 2006

Something Found

In my new house behind the mirror fronted white wardrobe that I dismantled while waiting for the electric meter man (white pvc coated chipboard) I found a pair of double-bladed gold windscreen wipers. Probably picked out lovingly for a much-cared about souped-up vehicle, stashed on top of the wardrobe where they dropped behind and were forgotten. They were never rediscovered because the wardrobe didn't fit in the new place. They did take the TV (almost as big as the living room wall) and the monster fridge which overhung the doorway.

I've left the windscreen wipers on the wall someone will love them (although people don't take stuff away as quickly as they do at my Pop's house).

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Big Dave's Gusset

In June 2005 I wrote a poem that started with a piece of graffiti that I saw sprayed in a building on the train journey from London Bridge to Waterloo East. Its a great journey - over rooftops of ye olde London, interspaced with derelict signal buildings that would make great hideaways (typewriter laptop, kettle, perfect).

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.

Many people must have seen the grafitti and searched for big dave's gusset out of curiosity for what it all means. No answers were forthcoming from my blog....

Until now. I have been emailing with Big Dave himself, I suspect because he must have come across my poem. And I am pleased to be able to splash the scoop of this little bit of underground London.

So I quote Dave:

I worked as an Engineer on the Jubilee Line Extension Project on London Bridge station's expansion between summer 94 & summer 97. I was based in an office set up in the roof of the big shed you can see from the Southwark St railway bridge. Adjacent to this, at the end of the shed was a concrete batching plant which me & my colleagues in our little department were responsible for managing, it produced all the concrete that went into the structural linings of the tunnels. We also ran a materials testing laboratory on the ground level below our office, adjacent to this plant.

Now the concrete batcher was operated 24/7. 3 shifts of two men operated it so we had a responsibility to manage these guys where the quality control of the concrete was concerned. Working, as you do, with people like this, day & nightshifts, weekends etc some good friends were made and it was one of the batcher ops, Jason Gregory, who daubed the slogan ‘Big Daves Gusset’ across the end wall of the shed. There was an open gantry which he will have stood on to do it (it has been dismantled now).

The slogan was a homage to myself as I was known to some as Big Dave, or ‘The Biggun’ (that got a bit tedious actually but hey ho…) because I am a big guy & called Dave, and a placid even tempered character so very easy going and good for a laugh. The gusset reference was to my taste in underpants at the time. I had bought a job lot of Champion brand y-front style undies from TK Maxx and wore these most of the time. At the beginning and end of each shift we would change in or out of our civvies into our regulation orange hi-viz outfits and this is when folks caught a glimpse of Big Daves Gusset, it was often remarked upon as of course these trolleys weren’t the most fashionable, but comfort was the rule.

It was actually a mistake on my part that I bought these pants though as I had meant to get the same brand's trendy trunk style however I realised I’d picked up 7 – yes one for everyday of the week – pairs of the Y-front style.

There you go. I'm loving this story. And this is what I love about blogging - all the coincidental tying up of loose ends. Fab!

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Blond bombshell

Stick-thin platinum blond goes to the toilet. All the men let their gazes trail after her. She's not particularly gorgeous, has slightly knock knees and is developing a slouch accentuated by her haircut. But she knows everyone.

On her way back a man at the bar attracts her attention by asking her something. She leans in to hear him. His eyes wander over her white mini-skirt, long legs and come to rest on her black camisole top. He grabs her hand and kisses it, leaving his lips just too long. She slides her hand out of his vice like grip, just short of snatching it back, and slopes off back to her drinking companions.

Thursday, 5 October 2006

Ceramics Class

So moving on from rudimentary pinch pots, we made coil pots last week. Rolls of clay built up in a sort of spiral, smoothing (to some extent) the vessel walls on the inside and outside as you build up. I used thin coils. Fat coils build faster. Mine was lobsided, but pot-like. Then I did some throwing. Much raising up a column of clay and squashing it back down. Lots of balls of clay whipping off to the side. Much squeezing too hard so it came off in my hand. No pots created. Damn hard it is, despite looking so easy.

This week I put a pre-firing glaze (called something-or-other velvet) on the pot I made last time. Y'know, just to see what it'll look like. We also built jugs out of wet-slabs. Don't be fooled by its infant-school styling. I can see potential in this method. I may be able to build a birdbath afterall!

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Bus Dramas

The 341 bus driver forgot he was driving a 341. As we failed to make the appropriate turning at Tottenham Green, round in front of what used to be a hospital, I got up to check with him that it was a 341 and not my tired mind playing tricks on me when I got on. He braked suddenly and I lurched forward. Yes he said I forgot to make the turn. We drove on passed Tescos, to the junction at West Green Road. He decided to turn into West Green Road and then did a three point turn. In a bus. Full of passengers. Never seen that before. And before you knew it we were back on course, but not before a number of bemused passengers came down to investigate and a seemingly normal woman lost it in a split second when he wouldn't let her off the bus (despite the fact he wasn't even on the route, never mind at a bus stop).

Tuesday, 3 October 2006


First I was at the London Assembly sitting watching out the window across the Thames at the Tower of London. Dreaming of working in such an area, loving the building and watching people meandering through along the spiral slope rather than taking the lift. Then, after a while, the speakers droned on enough to make my bottom ache and fidgitiness set in.

Eventually it was time to go and we were released back into the open air, craving excitement, we took a Thames Clipper along the river to Embankment.

Late Later Latest

Why is it that when you are late its never the bus you are waiting for that comes first?

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Bollywood comes to... Harringay

The boards warned of filming on Wednesday, car spaces outside numbers 91 - 97, and around the corner in Green lanes. Not to be outdone by Chelsea Football Club our very own section of little Turkey/Kurdistan was starring in a Bollywood Film this week. In the evening there was a crowd standing opposite Ye Olde Emporium (a pub built in what used to be a used car salesroom and made to look like it had been there a hundred years - peeling posters and old tools hanging off the ceiling) watching the action taking place in the rooms above the pub. An old man sitting on the flatroom having a discussion under the bightest film light reflecting off a silver umbrella. The boyfiend asked an indian with red hair what they were filming and was told a name he couldn't remember. It might have been the same film as the one being filmed at Chelsea but can't be sure. The actors went inside and the director, in army fatigues and a hat like Fidel Castro, stood up, raised his arms and shouted down to the street, "that's a wrap for the London based part of the filming". The entire crowd clapped - we must have been standing around with the extras, actors, wardrobe, makeup and rest of all the background people. A blond woman stood in the middle of our street and shouted, "All walkie talkies back to kate", and the Director invited everyone for a drink in the pub (but I didn't think he meant us).
Local History

The W5 arrives. Everybody piles on. A man behind me asks the stranger next to him if he knows where Ashmount School is. The stranger says yes, and proceeds to give him a history lesson about it from when it was built on the site of a rambling house when he was a boy to present. Eventually the man says he isn't actually going to the school, just getting off there to go and see a bedsit on Ashmount road.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Knowledge Management

I've been interested in the concept of knowledge management since I discovered that knowledge managers earned more money than I did back in 1999 (lots of advertised jobs in Ms London - the original free magazine for city secretaries that was thrust at us on the way into the tube). Never really met anyone who was one to find out exactly what it means though.

I was at a meeting today. We spent an hour and a half discussing, actually not discussing, sharing (discussion's touchy feely cousin that is altogether less cut throat and much fluffier) information with colleagues from the adult learning sector. We had a sandwich and some fruit and gave updates as to our respective organisation's latest schemes and projects, both on personal levels and as a whole (huge amounts of duplication appeared to be taking place I thought). I decided we were all keepers of information. I know my bit. You know your bit. I only know your bit if you tell me about it. Massive amounts of time and company pounds are spent for us to gather and generate information. Perhaps there are not enough knowledge managers in my field to help us make the best and most efficient use of our information and knowledge...

It made me feel very passive. I went back to the office and had a very productive afternoon in the production of more information that I will keep to myself for a while.

Monday, 25 September 2006


A girl caught my eye as I walked to the station. She was maybe 4'11, wearing white linen flares and a rucksack, striding home from school. As she crossed my path I noticed she had the most enormous feet - size 8s by the look of them. On second glance they were fabulous red patent leather with pointy toes and she was wearing them like mules because the heels were loose on account of her feet being far too small for them.

I smiled to myself, suddenly transported back to the days of dressing up in mummy's clothes - a nylon slip with lacey edges making a fabulous ballgown, high heels to make you elegant (even though you could only drag them along by the front straps) and necklaces that hung down to your knees.

She caught me smiling and turned to look back at me. I wondered how she had managed to get out of the house in such fab shoes without them being missed or her being noticed.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Ceramics Class

Its been a long time since I did any life drawing and the creative urge was running wild. I had a vision of a bird table in the garden soon to be mine. So I persuaded Bails to join up for a ceramics class at City and Islington College with me. Today was the first day.

I did a bit of ceramics for my three dimensional design degree. Quite liked the immediacy of making stuff in clay but didn't like the cold and wet thing. I had forgotten about the cold and wet thing. I remembered today.

Our first task was making pinch pots - ball of clay, stick thumb in, work the hole until it is larger and the walls of the "pot" (I say pot in the loosest possible sense) are even(ish). Clay is cold. And wet until you start handling it too much and then it draws moisture from your skin and starts to crack like windblown lips. The results were, shall we say, laughable.

Perhaps it will take some time to make anything that is even vaguely a thing of beauty. When we came back from break there was sadly no wheel space left for me so I made a hollow 3D form instead - two pinch pots of similar size stuck together with slurry and patted until even. All these things are now drying and should be fired by next week ready for glazing. Someone who's been coming to class for a while said she found a use for some of her early pieces this week - smashing them up and using them for crock in the bottom of flower pots. Quite!

Somewhere in the South East, more southern and eastern than Lewisham a big fire is raging. Despite the fact the flames aren't visible there is a huge plume of dark grey smoke wafting across the sky, drifting behind the docklands sky scrapers, towards some tower blocks across the river where it gradually smudges into the smoggy sky.

At London Bridge waiting for Bails I watch two eastern european girls. Denim mini and white heels so high she can't walk upright, combined with brassy bottle blond hair, and a friend in a paper thin yellow flared mini skirt that threatened to reveal her knickers at the slightest breeze, so she held it down at both sides. Amazing how pasty and white legs can look against a sea of dark suits.

Sunday, 17 September 2006

Neil Palmer

Ridding the Self of an Addiction to Brands

On our way back to the bus we passed a band of arty farty and fashion types gathering around a strange installation. Being nosey we stopped. There appeared to be some plans for burning stuff. A structure had been erected and clothes and plastic bags hung on it (particularly Selfridges' yellow bag and a Paul Smith stripy number). In front of it was a set - someones living room - a sidebaord, some decks, a dyson vaccum cleaner, a leather chair, a lot of pairs of trainers and a washing line with a number of designer shirts hung on it - Ralph Lauren, a vest by Vivienne Westwood, Lacoste...

After a while Neil Boorman took up his megaphone. He said today was about ridding himself of his addiction to brands and free himself from the tyranny of advertising. With that the men with the flame torches lit the bonfire and Neil proceeded to throw all his clothes on the fire. Anything that couldn't be burnt (health and safety reasons) was attacked with a huge hammer. Shrapnel flew around (particularly from the Dyson vaccum cleaner). Finally he let the audience take anything they wanted that was left. The audience rushed on. The hammers were raised (narrowly missing the heads of some of the looters). A health and safety nightmare! The trainers were swipped in an instance. We left wondering what he would do now he'd trashed all his stuff.
Open House 2006
201 Bishopsgate and the Broadgate Tower

I was pretty crap at Open House this year. Previously I have always made an effort. This year we went to see this building site.

Its going to be a 36 story high tower with an adjoining 13 story building. Made in the inevitable glass. Liverpool Street is going to resemble Docklands but without the reflective water. Work was continuing on Sunday. Men drove cranes, or those vehicles with lifting baskets which are driven from the basket itself. Girders were moved around. Consultations of groups in illuminous jackets.

Others who did it too (if you have a post but I haven't found it let me know and I'll add it on):
Diamond Geezer

Thursday, 14 September 2006

Mysteries of the Men's Wash Room

Pops and I were eating pizza on his birthday. He was telling me about his trip to the Apollo cinema last week (possibly my favourite cinema in London). In the men's toilet they have a trough instead of individual latrines, it goes round three sides of the room and has mirrors at face height. Lacking some privacy perhaps. But it is also filled with ice cubes. Pops says they used to that in fancy bars in the US. I'm struggling to figure out why. Does pee look good running over ice? (I expect it has nothing to do with that). Or does it keep the smell down? Or is it just pretentious?

Wednesday, 13 September 2006


A burly builder sleeps as the train trundles along, one foot up on the seat in front to steady himself, arms folded across his chest, head sinking into his neck. A slight woman gets on and slides into the seat next to him. Her shawl tassle brushes his arm and he jerks awake with a start. They both jump. "Sorry, luv, knackered, I was well gone," he says slurily. She whispers apologies. He shuts his eyes and drops off again chuckling to himself. She flicks a glance at him, concerned that she woke him.

Monday, 11 September 2006


Its 30 degrees in Peckham this lunchtime. The ladies in the African market tear leaves of some description into tiny fragments in a big steel bowl ready for cooking. Waiting in the queue at the newsagents a man in his electric vehicle is maneuvering through the waiting customers, his cart is shiny red, he's as grey as a person can be. A tall woman stands in the doorway and shouts to the clerk in a booming voice, "my friend not here yet?" and laughs maniacally as she retreats down the street. The man behind me mutters something about nutters and loose women in a Jamaican drawl. The beggar with the woolly hat asks me for change. I duck through Nettos on the way back, without looking at the crowded checkouts and trying not to breathe the chloriney bleach smell.

Saturday, 9 September 2006

I had a Dream

I was in a scrambled egg competition, alongside a number of chefs. Don't know why I was in it but I was. I felt that although I was not usually a competitive cook the recipe should hold its own if I did it right. You had to cook them in advance. They turned out ok. I left them in the copper bottomed frying pan and went upstairs as the judges and other competitors arrived at my house and started to congregate in the living room [don't know why that was happening but it seemed normal]. My sister and I sat in my bathroom watching the new flat screen TV I had installed in the wall above the bath. Eventually I dressed and went to face the judges...

I make scrambled eggs based on a cholesterol heavy recipe from my Dad's New York friend Randall which was included in a handwritten book of recipes he gave my parents for Christmas 1972. Herefollows the recipe.

Truly good scrambled eggs are a subtle triumph of which any cook should be proud. They achieve a certain elegance when cooked at the table for a Sunday night supper with friends of refined palates. You should not attempt to cook more than 8 eggs at a time.

For each 2 eggs:
1 and a half tbsp butter (rather more if you can bring yourself to it; don't skimp)
salt to taste
2 tbsp heavy cream [double to us]

Beat the eggs very lightly until they are just blended. Overbeating will make them runny. Add salt. Melt the butter over lowest heat in a skillet or chafing dish. Pour in the eggs and turn them very slowly with a wooden spatula. Continue turning for at least 10 to 20 minutes (depending on the number you are cooking). When they are almost set, pour in the cream and stir through the mixture. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for a minute or two, until they have reached a uniformly soft, creamy consistency. They should not be hard and lumpy. If you wish, you might add a little grated cheese along with the cream. I like to serve the eggs with ratatouille.

Personally I find I can't bring myself to add either the amount of butter or cream to the eggs and so usually do something much quicker, cooking the eggs in bit of butter, and loosening the almost set eggs with a dash of milk (or yoghurt - as my sister does). And I always put grated cheese in them. My way is by no means as creamy and elegant as the original recipe intended but it results in far superior scrambled eggs to those hard and lumpy examples usually on offer in cafs.

Friday, 8 September 2006


On the way home from a lovely evening walking along the Thames and popping into a late night viewing at the Hayward Gallery the bus passed a 38 pulled up outside St Paul's on Essex Road that was being boarded by several police officers. Another police car screeching along towards the bus from the opposite direction siren blazing.

We crossed Balls Pond Road and rounded the corner past the mercs dealer and came to halt behind a 476 stopped in the middle of the road with its passengers craning to see what was happening up front, and crowds of onlookers on both sides of the road. To the right was a car crushed into a parked vehicle with the driver inside, a cyclist (wearing shorts and a helmet) talked to him through the window, then a woman, followed by another man. Several people on mobiles. I sat for awhile thinking that when the ambulance arrived we'd be off again soon, others piled off the bus. The police arrived first, then the ambulance. Onlookers stood, witnesses provided reports, much waving of hands and directional pointing, lastly the fire brigade arrived. I decided someone must have to be cut out of the wreckage, which would likely take more time. I got off. In front of the 476 was a white car with its headlight broken, and no driver to be seen. The car crashed into the parked vehicle much worse off. Possibly he turned out of St Paul's Road and clipped the white car, but I wouldn't really know. The restaurant owners and onlookers stood watching. It was probably loud at the time. The passengers and I walked up to Newington Green for an alternative route.

Much later, decanting from the Salsbury at 1.30am, more flashing blue lights. The cops were closing one block from the turning to St Ann's Road, to just beyond Alison Road. Couldn't tell what for. Long queues started. Blue and white tape stretched from one side t'other. Could it be an incident at the snooker hall or perhaps the church. Or maybe one of the turkish men's cafes. We watched. Couldn't make it out so went home.

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

London Alphabet
D is for Dusk

Admittedly dusk is a phenomena all over the world, however dusk may be my favourite time of day in the autumn. It comes sooner than expected as the light fades sooner, and by surprise you are caught in that time between day and night when the lights come on all twinkly and lovely, strung along your way to destinations apres work that are full of promise. Its appeal is stronger before Christmas than aft, because the long strung out grey months ahead are far back in the memory, and the revelry of christmas is ahead, and before that Halloween and Fireworks night. I love the Thames at dusk, buildings light up, strings of lights, colours reflecting off the lapping waves. Merry people after work. The sun goes down beyond the horizon and the deep blue sky spreads up from the east. I've always been excited by being out late (less so recently, it has to be said) and dusk signals the coming night.

D is also for Dirt, Dickens and Docklands

Tuesday, 5 September 2006


His mouth was slack, pushing the three wheeled power steered buggy with one hand. Clad head to foot in designer urban gangster style clobber - all cammo with graffiti scrawled logos and japanese characters tattoed up his neck. Accessorised with gold chains and a pink baby bag slung over his shoulder.

Saturday, 2 September 2006

Journey to Dundee [and back]

Not quite the centre of the earth but equally webless - at least it is at the moment since my sister's connection is broke, there aren't any internet cafes and the library has a waiting list for use of a computer (quite rightly) and I couldn't remember my sister's address off by heart to join anyway.

I didn't travel in a capsule either, but by train. However by the end of a 6 hour journey a train does start to feel a bit like a capsule.

Somewhere between York and Newcastle the frumpy conductress in her green blouse and frightfully regimented hair came through each carriage bellowing from the doorway, "has anyone seen a girl, about 14, wearing a lime green teeshirt, come through here?" Nobody had, we all shook our heads and quietly returned to our newspapers. Runaway? Got off the train at York unbeknown to her parents, escaped her dull life of boredom, and joined the circus? Got off the train at York for a quiet ciggy and didn't board again in time, panicking as the doors sucked themselves shut and the almost inperceptable movement forwards began? Locked self in the first class toilet and couldn't find the help button? We'll never know - the conductress didn't announce the outcome (sadly) and I wasn't brave (or nosey) enough to ask what happened.

The sea is dark, the sky blue. Sheep blend with the long yellow grasses, heads down. Rocks jut out into the water at the bottom of the cliff face. A tractor trawls across a brown field. The train arcs back inland passing a red brick castle on a hill.

This brief trip coincides with my nephews birthday and I am mostly concerned with baking cake and making it into a car (whole day's fart arsing around with cake and coloured icing - manage to create an old blue banger which just about fits the bill until the little people arrive and discover it hiding under its paper bag and start poking - couple of indicator and brake lights drop off before the candle thing).

Another day I have two tasks - finding the boyfiend a suitable gift from Dundee (something tartan? something Scottish? something about the Beano?) and finding an internet cafe. Unsuccessful on both counts but do see a rainbow and this house shadow or perhaps its more like a print of where a building used to stand but is no longer. A trace of a house. Important to find something to observe in order to take a breather as you pound your way up and down Hilltown. Also notice the police standing guard where someone was murdered last week (read this in a strong scottish accent - think old days of Taggart - po'liss - po sounding as in beginning of pop rather than poe as I would say it, and murrrrdrrred with rolling r's). One each in the brown stone doorways of some tenements above the shops.