Saturday, 25 February 2006

Fruits of my labours
A post for pops

The sun is out, the sky is blue (dear prudence) I had to go out in the garden and clean up after the fox who had obviously eaten pigeon for dinner. Don't know exactly what happens but all that is left are a couple of wing feathers joined together and a whole heap of fluffy inner feathers, the rest - skeleton, feet, beak, everything - is gone. That'll be twice I've had to do that now. Then I filled up the bird feeders, which got me a bit conflicted (we feed the birds knowing there is a fox who eats them, well the big ones amongst them).

While I was out there I took joy at the signs of spring - everything spurting new growth and the bulbs planted last autumn coming up, so I'm following the gardening fraternity and posting some pictures. Pops has been away for almost half a year now and is likely to miss the spring bulbs. So here they are.

He'll also miss the christmas cactus' best ever display - all six laiden with flowers.

I feel like my grandad. He used to make us sit through slide shows of plants from his trips to South Africa. Well, intermingled with relatives, which we didn't mind watching. It was just he did so like the plants, and the pictures were just so, um, boring, and he did have absolute control of the slide projector so he could tell you all about each shot. So, just in case this is really really boring you, I'll try not to do it again! Its just that almost anything is more interesting at the moment than 'do we need a curriculum for lifelong learning' which I'm going back to the minute I click publish.

Friday, 24 February 2006

Favourite London Places 2

Sitting in a cafe next to the Globe Tavern, watching working people hurry home huddled in their coats, an occassional train rattling by overhead, a sizzle of electricity fires off the tracks, the blue lights under the railway arch flashing.

I want a bit of magic to happen, I say to Bails. Remember walking in Paris, it was freezing cold and turning a corner we'd come across a beautiful square, find a cafe, sit for hours with a thick hot chocolate watching some gorgeous Gaul drink dark coffee and drag slowly on a cigarette while reading the paper?

Unable to decide what to do we set off on a stroll along the Thames, a chill wind blowing, watching the lights on the water, hearing the still, away from the street traffic. Past the Tate Modern with its silver birches and then taking a peek at the Museum of... behind the Oxo Tower, swathed in flourescent lights. In the park next door the trees are twinkling blue and white. An Oberon in a black leather jacket danced around excitedly gazing up at the glittering forest, listening to the Thames lapping at the shore, shouting to his friend, drinking in the magic of the night. We laughed at his delight.

On we walked as our fingers went numb with cold, past the skateboarders and the new resturaunts and up onto Hungerford Bridge, where we passed a suitable Titania in a skirt made of chiffon and a sequinned scarf. And then turned away from the riverside to find a watering hole.

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Hypothetically Speaking

You're in a helicopter chasing burglars through the neighbourhood with a search beam. Can you see into the windows of rooms with the curtains open? Do you have high powered binoculars? Or heat sensitive cameras? Can your heat sensitive camera see through the walls of buildings?

Tuesday, 21 February 2006


The Humble Toothbrush

When exactly did the world of the toothbrush get so complicated? Remember when the choice was between big or small head, hard or soft bristles, and you changed it when the hairs bent over?

Bails proudly presented her new brush - the head configuration was three interlocking circles of bristles, each with the obligatory outer blue ring of wear-indicating bristles, and small gum-massaging rubber nodes, plus on the otherside a tongue brush which could be tested before purchase by stroking a patch on the outside of the packet (presumably a finger-test rather than a live tongue-test) and an ergonomic handle with grip. She said it took her ages to pick one out. I use electric because it also times me for the optimum brushing length. I'm assuming all this has improved our dental hygiene.
Road Works

Traffic on Seven Sisters from junction at Manor House is reduced to two lanes in both directions. Queues are long.

Five men in flourescent yellow jackets stare into a hole, hands in pockets, shaking their heads. Euch, its a big job.

Sunday, 19 February 2006

The Impossible High Heels

Stopped in the middle of Upper Street, leaning on the plate glass window of gallery, dropping flatties on the pavement from the ample handbag, boyfriend watching.

"Sort of spoils the impact of shoes to impress the boyfriend when you can't walk in them", we titter.
"Yes, shoes that you can only stand up in are not a good choice for a pub crawl".
"Shoes you can only sit down in".
"Oh I don't know, I think I might be able to cling to the bar in those".

Friday, 17 February 2006

Noticing the Neighbours

In a living room opposite, bathed in yellowish light, where a woman once sat watching out of the middle window, there is now a plant. A man (possibly the man in the red sweater) gets up from sitting on the floor, presumably watching the news, and rearranges his towel about his body, failing to shield his arse from the street. Well perhaps the street couldn't see, but I could. He leaves the room. And then comes back. After a short while he must be dry. He gets up and folds the towel as he walks out of the door. Having left the towel to dry he comes back into the living room, still naked, and draws the curtains against the night.

Thursday, 16 February 2006

Favourite London Places

On a stroll the other day we cut through Broadgate from Finsbury Square on our way to Spitalfields. There's a place there just before you get to the arena (ice-skating in winter, cloaked in ivy in summer) which has a floor like a video game. I first saw it in blue on my way home one evening, it was dark and I came through there quite by accident and found it. Its one of those suprises that I love. The other day it was fading to and from red as the commuters swarmed diagonally across on their way to Liverpool street station. On the far side the George Segal's Rush Hour capturing a mimickry of them forever in bronze.

I first came here when I was at college because they have a Richard Serra sculpture here nestled between tall buildings, gradually becoming more and more rust to match with the pinky marble. I photographed it for my degree dissertation, as someone passed by they said to me, "you don't actually like that do you?" Well actually I do, I love the fact that these huge pieces of steel lean against one another and hold themselves up. Brutal but clever.

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Valentines Day

Today I am at home eating chocolate that the boyfiend dropped round earlier and attempting to write an essay about why we need a curriculum in lifelong learning (will be off the rest of the week doing this). I was very good yesterday and worked hard all day. Didn't even go out of the house. Today I've got cabin fever. Later I reckon I'll go the supermarket to get the makings for play-doh (recipe from my sister) for an activity in my MA module - the things we do for an education!

Friday, 10 February 2006


In my 7 by 2 paned office window the sky is blue. The merest tip of a fluffy white cloud is visible in the bottom of the bottom left pane. An tiny areoplane climbs into the blue travelling from the bottom right through the bottom left pane leaving a double trail of vapour that gradually fades until its the faintest etched line. The tip of the cloud (like an iceberg I'm sure if I stood up it would be much bigger than I can see) moves in the opposite direction, until it slides out of view from the bottom right pane, trailing wisps of cloud following it.

I can tell its a sunny day and I long to leave here, to be outside feeling the chill of the air and the merest touch of sun on my face rather than staring at it out of the Victorian school window in my cell-like office.

Big flock (not sure flock sounds right) loft of pigeons swoops around flashing grey and silver as their undersides are exposed whilst banking. A wisp of jealousy of their freedom courses through my body.

Tuesday, 7 February 2006


Under a street light down an alley, he pulls her close to him and kisses her, her body relents and folds into his arms. They hold a long embrace, until his arms release her and they continue on their way holding hands.

A middle aged couple in puffer jackets, with a dog, on a winter's night spied from new bendy 29 bus.

Monday, 6 February 2006

Pictorial Respite

Its been stifling hot indoors the last few days and then I came across these long forgot christmas snow scenes from Dundee. I can feel the chill stillness. Was lovely, wandering in the park, nobody around but us. Looking out across the hill to the town as the dark descended.

Sunday, 5 February 2006


In a living room opposite, bathed in yellowish light, a woman sits watching out of the middle window. She sits there for hour after hour. Periodically a man in a red pullover comes in and speaks to her. She doesn't turn to face him. He looks concerned. He goes away.

The room has an oval mirror on the wall above an old fashioned settee with stiff cushioning and wooden arms. To the left side of the room is a desk with a wooden chair and a stool discarded towards the middle of the room. Over the desk is a double wall lamp that they used to have in hotels - with the pleated cloth shades.

The man with the red pullover comes back, he is drinking a cup of tea. He speaks to the woman for some time. Another man comes and leans against the door frame. An older man with hair greying at the temples, wearing a charcaol sleeveless cardigan. He's drying a plate. He smiles. The woman finally gives up her post at the window and sits down on the settee.

I wonder if she is waiting for her black and white cat. I think thats the windowsill he sits on.

Saturday, 4 February 2006

Our Transforming Street

I think our street will soon look like a seaside town. The fashion for brick is being overwhelmed by pale exterior paint. Large victorian houses slathered in cream, or white, and more recently two that are pale blue, and a pale pink one.

Used to be that those which weren't rendered on the outside and retained their original brickwork would either be just brick or painted in brick-coloured paint (a sort of mustard or dark red) with grouting in black (the outlined brick was very popular for some time, and there are still examples today). Or those who steered clear of the outline and kept with their brick colours. Even the houses with rendered outsides would be dark - dark red mostly, or pebble-dashed. Apart from the one green one.

The cream is creeping in at remarkable speed. Even the green house (a semi-detached whose side is open to the canal) is now cream on the front and back and on the side as far up as the painter could reach without scaffolding (a good two thirds of the side remains dirty pale green, but at least the family won't notice as they walk down their side path, as long as they don't look up).

I like the seaside look for cottagey streets - theres a lovely little street of small houses in Finsbury Park which I used to like walking down, and periodically you come across them in Islington. I like the grand cream coloured houses of Regent's Park with their columns and railings. But I'm not sure we'll ever pull it off here. I suppose its a sign of gentrification, and people do care about their property more now than ever before (which is a good thing). Perhaps I'd prefer if we laid off the cream and went with the other candi colours a bit more - it might convince me a little better. Maybe I should try to get the neighbourhood group to adopt a palette!
The world at large

First day venturing out after a sickness-induced incarceration, spent living vicariously through TV and blogging. Things seemed different. In part I suspect due to the altered head I've been experiencing (severe dizziness has given way to a headache which stops me focusing quite fully). Details are engaging me rather than the bigger picutre.

Pigeons eat pizza. A discarded banana skin lying on someones front wall goes dark brown, filled out at one end by the remaining fruit. A couple wrestle their 2 year old child into a pushchair. I pass a man whose aftershave engulfs me and settles in the back of my throat.

The supermarket is packed with trolley wielding family groups. And by the time I get home I'm very glad of the quiet and stillness.

Thursday, 2 February 2006


We've gotten used to the screams of foxes in the night and the sight of them wandering through the back garden in search of food, but what on earth is a pheasant doing in an inner city garden? An escaped christmas dinner? Or laying low from shooting season? And where's he living - there aren't enough bushes to hide in. I'm worried the fox'll get him.