Saturday, 31 March 2007


My new garden has a well established lawn and not a lot else. Last weekend I planted a tree and a magnolia. They are both in bloom (not masses because they are both rather twigging at present, but in bloom non the less).

The tree is a Prunus x yedoensis 'Shidare-Yoshino'. Which is quite exciting. No idea when I bought it that it would have autumn colour.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Lidl's Finsbury Park

So a long time ago there used to be a pram shop. On the corner of the park sort of next to the 12 Pins. It recently opened up as Lidls. One of my fellow ceramics students goes there to pick up bulk buys of bottled water. He talks about it, so our tutor has started popping in to see what's available as the special purchase of the week. The only time I stopped by it was cherry trees. One week it was golf clubs (shame that Ally Pally golf course has now shut). Last week it was horse's jackets (can't imagine how relieved the residents of Finsbury Park were when upon popping into Lidl's they found they could pick up that one difficult thing left on the bottom of their shopping list). This week, apparently it was unicycles. £24.99. Bargain.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Ceramics Class

So the 10 minute tea set turned out like this. Despite lavishing gold oxide onto the edges, it has turned out more like pewter. Still they're quite funny and seeing as it was the last class we ate easter eggs and drank Leffe out of them (one cup takes approximately one sip, after about 3 refills each we had managed to finish oh easily a quarter of the bottle). Still they are water tight (apart from one which leaks!). Also finally got back the porcelain vase and glazed that so its something to look forward to next term.

flickr ceramics class set

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Men's Shoes

On a rack outside a shop in Bruce Grove. Sign says buy one get one free. Does that mean buy a right one and get the left one free or does it mean buy one pair and get a second free?

Monday, 26 March 2007


New. Open plan. New building. Memory of PC stolen at some point during unplugging and arriving at new place. Irritated other workers on the new desk-island. Bad start to new work surroundings.

9.55am. Not too bad so far. I'm using a spare PC. Its awfully quiet. I've just had to go into the stairwell to talking on the mobile phone.

11.52am. Right now there is far too much chatting and giggling going on and not much work. There's two in the meeting area. Out island-colleagues are talking with colleagues from anther island - talking about babies. The cataloguing librarians are chatting and tearing off sellotape - chatting in a sort over-the-fence-gossiping way.

16.05pm. Full compliment of colleagues on the opposite island. Boy can they chat. Two people are going round in coats complaining of cold. I on the other hand am baking and would really like to open some windows. My cheeks are red - I can feel them. We've just had a brief blast of Boney M's Brown Girl in the Ring from the cataloguers. Much full room discussion of singing the song in the school playground, or the fact of being far too young to remember such things. I'm almost at the stage of putting my fingers in my ears and going lalala I can't hear you.

16.34pm. There's a great talking bum (clad in tweed) using a guillotine next to my desk. Its talking to a colleague who sits next to me who has wandered off without the guillotine-user realising.

5.30pm. End of the day. Sure I'll get used to it in time.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Sparrows vs Tits

(Not quite West Side Story, and actually more sparrows vs tit, singular). There's a gang of sparrows about 11 strong. They hang out in this mass of matted branch, stem stuff at the back of next door's neighbour's. The stuff overhangs next door's shed. Sparrows flit from matted stuff to shed roof edge and onto a feeder hanging in a small tree on my boundary with next door. Dominating the back of the gardens. Much too-ing and fro-ing. Tit gets the front of the garden. From the fucia (I hate fucias), holly bush and tall rose to the house eaves and across to the feeder in a tree closer to the houses. On rare occassions tit makes at attempt at the sparrows feeder. Then everybody abandons everything when next door's cat arches his back lazily on the roof of the shed at the back of the opposite garden.
1000th Post

And this is my 1000th post (so I'm making it a really boring one!) It seems like some kind of milestone. It feels it has taken me quite a long time to get here I have to say!
Spring Forward

Why I'm actually doing awake at this hour (when I haven't been out and am not dancing the night away somewhere) I'm not sure. However I am now in that limboland that the changing clocks besets us with. Its not quite so upsetting in Autumn when you get an extra hour but I suddenly noticed that the time on the laptop had moved to 2.00am when I was certain it had only been 12.40 very recently. I had to check the BBC website to see if it was tonight that the clocks were going forward. Normally you hear it on the news. I can never quite get my head around where the extra hour comes from or where it disappears to in Autumn. But it certainly upsets my body clock considerably. For about a week. So it doesn't help that I am awake noticing it happen.

Saturday, 24 March 2007


I'm having tree planting anxiety. I've wanted to plant a small tree in my small urban garden. Looking around the garden centre last weekend I found a suitable one. Bought it. It was delivered yesterday. Between those times I have spent a little bit of time looking up planting advice. I've now got the anxiety of a hypochondriac (the oh my god I've got... kind of anxiety). I have to dig a hole - I can do that, thats fine. But I do need to improve the soil it seems (general fertilizer must be bought). I need to stake the tree (do I need to get a new thicker one or is the one that came with the tree sufficient) and ties, proper tree ties manufactured specially for that purpose (so the advice says, if I can't find one, what then...). I need to water it but not drown it for the first year. Its a lot of responsibility. What if it dies? But I'm forgetting I'm quite good with plants...

Friday, 23 March 2007

Ceramics Class

Its coming to an end again. There's the mad rush at the end of the 10 week term where people have been making and making and making but not glazing. Lots of finishing off to be done. Glazing isn't the quick dipping at the end that one might expect it to be. There are choices (albeit subject to a certain amount of chance once applied, but choices none the less). There are techniques for applying. Then there is cleaning up (bottoms must be clean with at least 4mm of clean space at the bottom of the pot as well - to allow for seeping glaze during firing - technicians are not best pleased if your pot/cup/plate/thing sticks to the kiln shelf). So its all a bit frantic for the last couple of weeks.

So the tall pot didn't come out exactly as I had hoped. Next time I might choose not to drip blue lines onto it. And the bulbous pot (which is actually shorter by far than the tall pot) was a bit of a glazing disaster - white tin was too thin, the shiny stuff is extremely shiny (on the plus side it doesn't look so much like a hospital pisspot anymore). But as it is a bit of a hit and miss process and I feel I'm just working up to the real work, it doesn't really matter!

flickr ceramics class set

Thursday, 22 March 2007


Waited in the rain queuing outside the Indian High Commission to get a Q-number from the open window. Waited in the wrong queue until a nice man behind me explained why there were two windows.

Collected my yellow, dated, Q-number and entered the embassy through a side door, passed through an ancient security detector gate, up some steps with municipal linolium and into the visa hall. It was full. The electronic numbers were on B39. My ticket was number C41. It was 9.30am. Over a hundred visas to be approved before me.

The floor was old parquet, the counter was like an old 50s post office - dark stained wood windows with clutches of people crowding round. Grey plastic fixed seats filled with the waiting stretched across the hall. A big crowd congregated at the far side by the exit. Completely unsure about what was going on and where exactly I should be I sat down and waited for the buzzing of numbers turning to inch closer to B99 when at least we'd get to the C-numbers.

B63. I got my paper out. A new crowd of people gathered at a wooden doorway which occassionaly opened for forms to be passed in or a stack of passports to be passed out.

B71 the man at one of the windows got a bit trigger happy and kept pressing, the numbers buzzed through to B79 before any of the holders of those numbers had an opportunity to present themselves. People crowded up to the windows. Chaos ensued. The chairs cleared a little though.

Buzzzd. The numbers turned over. The C light lit up. 00. buzzd. C01.

C22. A look around. Its a great leveller, the visa hall. We're all here. Woman in an extremely expensive fur coat and scarf, serious travellers, groups, boys off to Goa, people visiting relatives, a woman organising some kind of tournament (much loud discussion of buffet breakfast tickets, itineries and the participants on the mobile phone, despite there being many signs forbidding their use).

C23. A man who came in after me presented himself to the window. Your ticket is C57, the woman behind the glass said. I've been waiting for ages, he said. I'm sorry, she said, watch the indicator and come back up when your number appears.

C41. I finally get to a window. It takes 5 minutes to process the form. She gives me a print out with my number on it and says collect your passport from window 1 in an hour. I contemplate going out to get a coffee somewhere, stand in the doorway feeling the chill breeze and decide instead to sit back down and wait some more. About half an hour later I hear the man at window 1 calling out numbers B23, B56 and then suddenly unexpectedly C41. I go up wafting my print out. A woman protests, I must have missed my number, my number's B.. The man cuts her off, you must come when I call the number out please wait, make room. I pass my print out through the window and recieve back my passport with visa and leave the melee behind me, descend the dark hallway and escape back through the side door to the street.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Terrible Things to Do with your Eyebrows
Numbers 1, 2 & 3

  1. Pluck them all out and draw very thin, very black lines in their place. Particularly when that line goes above the natural brow line (you will look like a drag queen).

  2. Remove the bit of your brows that joins them over your nose by shaving it off. This never looks quite right. Get professional help. Or at least pluck.

  3. For a man - overly manicured eyebrows (something becoming more popular with younger fellows). Your eyebrows are supposed to be bigger and less neat than a woman's. Try not to show us up.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007


Free from a meeting back into the street I look up at the snow flying horizontally across a steel grey sky. Strangely it isn't falling on me. Where I am the sun shines and makes a rainbow against the snow. And then bam the first icy flakes hit me in the face. And then more and heavy rain drops pummel down on my head.

Later. Much later I stand on platform 2, raised as it is above the street, listening to heavy drops dripping from the gutter onto a flat roof below. I stare into the huge pale yellow sun hanging low in the sky as dusk gathers. Relishing the blue spots when I look away.

I'm thinking about the beggar I just gave a measly amount of spare change to (some coppers and two silver coins). He told me its his birthday tomorrow. He'll be 36. He's younger than I am but looks about 45. Glad I'm not him. Its cold to be living on the street.

First day of spring tomorrow.

Monday, 19 March 2007


Went to a play today. At the National. It was good. Audience was full of olds. Perhaps it was because it was a Tennessee Williams play. Perhaps its because it was the National, or maybe because it was Monday night.

I'm reminded of theatre etiquette. Where ever you sit in a theatre you have responsibilities. Middle of the row - you must try to be back early from the interval. Terrible to have to excuse everybody else on the row to get back to your seat. End of rowers need to be both swift off their seats at the start of intervals and end of performance and lesiurely back from intermission. And try not to push people over on the rush to the bar, there are no gold medals y'know.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Coffee and Cake

In a clean white coffee and cake shop on Blackstock Road the waitress busies herself with washing up quietly and two japanese girls have one of those difficult conversations between girlfriends when one has got together with a boyfriend and the other has been left behind. I know you say I can call you anytime but its not really possible because he doesn't like it. I dont see you anymore. (Translate: I liked our relationship the way it was before. I feel abandoned.) The boyfriend is made to be the enemy of the piece becuase he's the basic cause and all his girlfriend can do is apologise. Its a sort of one sided pain.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Earwigging an Actress, Darhling

...I'm thinking a bit young but gorgeous, right up my street...its like when you've got two lines and you're up on the stage of the Almedia for the first time and because you've only got two lines you really ham it up, proper 40s accent and everything. And they say can you just throw it away a bit more Jessica and you say yeah of course and then do it the same again. Two years at Rada? You're rubbish. So naturally I don't get the call...I was up for an advert, playing Australia, America, New Zealand and here - very unusual - it was life changing money, I'd have been able to pay off my mortgage, £150,000.00 and £500 every time it aired. They were telling me I had it in the bag. There were 8 of us, whittled down to 2. I called Ben and my mum and I was screaming and they were screaming. And then I was just waiting for the call. That was 2 weeks was all face stuff, there were no lines. I have a great face for face stuff. You just had to look orgasmic eating porridge. My face is soooo porridge...

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Tube Space

Standing today with the bum of a man much taller than me nestled into the small of my back a number of things crossed my mind. Firstly, that I could tell this was an irritated bum, how could I tell this? Something to do with the way it backed into me, like it was accusing me of getting in its space. Secondly, if it wasn't an angry bum it might be a slightly erotic situation. This thought quickly evaporated as someone's bag dug into me, the bum leaned angrily against me as the tube jerked and the doors opened to let more people on who will squeeze, push, cajole and inch a space out for themselves. And then London Bridge and the freedom of space and a depth of air that just doesn't exist in a tube carriage.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Assessment Test

I have been assaulted with a battery of tests today. Competing with the best of the rest of the Council for an obviously coveted place on a leadership course. We've had individual interviews for an hour and a half, taken a raven's test for an hour, and pretended we were a special projects officer in the second week of work having to deal with a written crisis (hour long exercise), prepare for and meet with an angry councillor (played by a pretty convincing actor) and write a presentation which I delivered to the woman who used to be in the RAF jumping out of planes.

They asked us as we left if we had fun. Personally I felt not. I was stressed. Anxious. It was like having the worst day at work, not knowing what you're supposed to be doing, not knowing the subject properly and being made to take the blame. Not sure its really an accurate depiction of the role of a leader, but then again I may be mistaken, being as I'm not one at present. At least there wasn't an Alan Sugar moment where we were hauled in and told you're fired.

Saturday, 10 March 2007


In the pound shop a girl sticks out her chest so the man behind the counter can grab her breast with his long-armed-grabber. They collapse in laughter when he is successful. A form of extreme flirtation perhaps.

Boys run for the bus trying not to spill their open drinks. First they're on the outside of the railings and then transfer to the safe side. They miss the bus though.

Some driver agreived by the bus driver pulling out infront of him, manages to overtake and proceeds to drive very slowly infront of the bus as a protest. At the next stop he pulls in, jumps out and runs up to give the bus driver a piece of his mind.

Two stops long a youth jumps onto the bus screaming to the driver to get out of his cab, punches the glass divide repeatedly. Two girls with him drag him off the bus by the neck telling him he's soooo stupid.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Ceramics Class

I'm calling this plate, because, well, its a plate. I dipped it in white crackle glaze which gives it a really lovely satiny feel and drizzled some Egyptian blue on the spiral.

This term one of the students is a big whistler. Which has led to lots of tunes being sung/hummed/whistled almost subconsciously. Last week it was Hawai-5-O. This week it was songs from the Jungle Book. Somehow between us we knew many of the words to many of the songs. My personal favourite is the vultures singing, "we're your friend, we're your friend, we're your friend til the bitter end".

flickr ceramics class set

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Little Africa, Peckham

Its lunchtime. The warmth of the spring sunshine is strengthening. In the doorway of his mother's shop a child less than 3 years old dances to the reggae music blaring from the hairdressers across the street.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Pet Peeves

On crowded underground trains standing body to body I'm finding it increasingly difficult to tolerate those little bumps when someone's elbow nudges you or they swing against you against the sway of the train. Its irrational, but a response to personal space invasion. I hardly ever seem to let my hand slip down the pole and land on someone else's hand. But I'm having less and less tolerance to this enforced bodily contact with strangers. Perhaps it was just today. Went to work earlier than normal. Much more crowded.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Invigilation games

Teachers are much more like teachers than I ever imagined. Invigilation games involve trying to relieve boredom during endless exams by doing the catwalk (catwalking the aisles), or walking as far as possible with your eyes shut without bumping into something, or my personal favourite of the games offered up, each invigilator standing next to the kid they think is most likely to be pregnant by 15.

The shadow of the earth crossed over the moon until the moon grew orange, the sky is darker than usual.

Pictures by DrD and Blue Witch.

Friday, 2 March 2007


In a delapidated park in the Old Kent Road, on a day that had started sunny but was now cloudy and turning damp, the front trees were surrounded by daffodils, brightly cheerful in the dim surroundings. Old concrete planters with dark shrubs lined up along the back walls. A blossom tree in pink hung over the wall from a garden behind. And in the mossy, grey darkness towards the back a man barbequed his dinner sitting on a low bench. A lick of smoke curling up through the trees.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Ceramics Class

Paperclay pot - made with paper fibre wedged into the clay to make it stronger and lighter. I was attempting to build something really tall. Then in the week before half term I started another pot - terracotta so that I can use some gold oxide on it. Trying to build something that isn't bulbous which is proving to be really difficult.

Then we had a group activity. Make 10 things in 10 minutes. All that came into my head was teacups. Not that you'd make them out of terracotta normally, or anything.

flickr ceramics classs set