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.