Monday, 29 December 2008

Christmas passed

After the maniacal build up - all the shopping and crowds and hoopla and parties and spirit - a 10 hour drive up up up the country to Scotland. When we started out I was thinking about who else is going as far as we were. Eating up the miles as tarmac passes under the wheels. The rhythm of the vehicle on the road, extended soft bends of the motorway taken at full speed, smooth surfaces, wide lanes. Newer cars move easily sliding along at 80. Only the tentative keeping to the speed limit, middle lane drivers steady 80s, fast lane way over (which feels different to the last time we drove up a couple of years ago). We only passed one car all the way there and back that had that old car drone of exertion. A beetle - an orange beetle, peddle to the metal, roaring at full capacity, doing 65 as we slid silently past in our comfortable and temperature controlled space listening to the radio and chatting. Reminded me of Georgia's cars - no speed and if there was any speed absolutely no talking could be heard above the roar of the engine.

Was glad to be getting home but since I've been here it feels a bit empty and lonely. Christmas was a crush of eight people in a three bedroom house, presents, cooking (too many chiefs and not enough indians was quite a common occurance), eating, playing games, walks, tantrums (all ages, but more from the children), some sleeping (but not as much as I get at home), tv. Its now the count-down to going back to work. 6 days and counting...

Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas at Border's Starbucks

People stake out a place at a clean table - toss the remenants of the previous dweller onto an unoccupied space. A particular man in a beige cap ran back from the queue to chastise a woman putting the remenants from her table onto his (denoted by his scarf draped over the chair of a table that he himself had previously cleared).

Two young women exchange gifts. One has bought the other a book - comedy sketches. She opens it, flicks through it and puts it to one side. She has bought the other a stack of ever-decreasingly sized gifts - four are stacked up. The friend unwraps each one carefully and coes over each revealed thing. There are earrings, and other wearables. Not sure how pleased with a single book the one of many gifts will be.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Christmas Season

Ratchetting up to Christmas there have been parties and lunches and endless boxes of quality street in the office. The parties are passing us by (wrong team, wrong management structure) and we're building up to an inspection after Christmas. Nothing quite like it to dampen the Christmas spirit.

After the success of the pumpkin carving I was charged with coming up with a sustainable christmas tree to enter into the departmental contest. 2nd prize this time.

In the shops sales abound and the credit crunch hasn't stopped the shoppers. Crowds, lights, and singing. I can't seem to find a really suitable brother-in-law figt - last year I got him a stunt kite - and its hard to get a better gift than that.

Can't seem to muster the enthusiasm - too much work on and not enough time.

Man standing at the bus stop wearing a top hat and silver glitter shoes.

Someone at the back of the bus is playing rap music out loud. I keep listening to it and its good, rather than irritatingly tinny like mobile music usually is. When the music man gets off the bus is quiet. Sniffly. Hiss of earphones.

Did you hear the one about the dyslexic devil-worshipper? He sold his soul to Santa.

I laughed...

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Scenic London

Today the people of London were especially filmic. Everywhere there were people who could be followed with the expectation that their life would lead you through a story that wouldn't be out of place in a movie.

Coming down an escalator after a man wearing his hair in purposefully multidirectional peaks, carrying a guitar case. Not a regular sized one, slightly smaller than normal. Pristine. He was careful not to bash it against the sides. Clearly a prized instrument. Off the escalator his shoes clip loudly on the tiled floor. I feel myself running after him as if he's a character in a French film, like Amelie, wanting to see how the story unfolds.

Jamaican woman sitting on the tube creaming her hands - rubbing them together over and over to get it absorbed. The left on has a tatooed skull with a ring over its head and some algerian font writing running up the thumb. Quentin Tarantino would linger on this hand as it engaged in some kind of deal, so that next time the tattoo is seen a little clue will slot into place.

One of those young blond men with red lips stands tall in the middle of the carriage chatting to a friend in tweed. He has grown a beard to add some age to his boyish face. He wears his open collar up. Hairy chest grows up his neck. A fop in a costume drama, not the troubled, dark, but ultimately good lead, but one of the sporty brothers or friends who is always bounding in with gumption to dance, drink or play the piano with aplomb.

Saturday, 6 December 2008


After midnight in December. Street light dimly glows. The wet grass smells green. It is lush and even.

In the morning 5 sparrows frollick in the shallow birdbath at the end of the garden, swooping into the sunlit shrubbery to dry off. Frost crispy on the blades of grass that are still in shadow.

Monday, 1 December 2008


Cold, misty, slightly damp. Walking along a smell of strawberry creeps up. Strawberry syrup spilled on the pavement from a broken bottle, like ink on blotting paper, spreading but contained within its edges.

Once in Lewisham market an elderly Jamaican man taught me how to recognise a good bottle of syrup. Tip the syrup bottle and watch the contents seep back from the inside neck, a good syrup is thick and takes time, a poor syrup looks watery.

Friday, 28 November 2008


She looks longingly into his eyes, her neck bent right back to see, he is a foot taller than she. Huddled together, swaddled in tweed against the cold.

* * *

Tall and willowy, he held her body close to hers and they kissed - still but deep, sucking the energy from one another. When they parted their cheeks were flushed pink as they rushed to jump onto the bus.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

London Life

Amidst the endless commuting, working and commuting and working, there's been an incident where a pickpocket hit me on the head with his plastic bag shortly after he was caught dipping the pocket of a tourist on crutches. Big caffuffle. Useless bus driver. Scary thief. Then the next day I was propositioned on the street. Too much street life going on.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Tube reading

Is it ok to read pornographic novels on the tube? Well perhaps not quite pornographic but certainly graphic. In my current book-reading surge I picked The Crimson Petal and the White off the to-read stack. Little did I realise that (despite the back cover saying it was about the rise in society of a prostitute called Sugar) it was going to go into steaming detail of sexual encounters every 10 pages or so. I'm trying not to let anyone read over my shoulder in case tehy catch sight of all the spewing, juicy, slicks and nipples peppering the unnaturally white pages from which text leaps blindingly out.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Remember remember

Mist hung in the damp air - London as it is depicted in Dickens - perfect fireworks night weather. Pop and fizz of fireworks in the distance, occassionally coloured sparks fly in arcs over the top of the rooftops. Smoke drifting across the air, smell of gunpowder. Didn't catch a display this year though.
President Elect Obama

Today I woke, having heard the news in the early hours, and spoken with Dad who was also awake, and it was a good day. I'm proud of America. Elated. Relieved greatly. Morally the right result. New dawn. Excited. At work people were uplifted, talking, engaged, optimistic.

By contrast I feel embarrassed about Britain - sluggish, and impeded by its history. Depressed and in recession. Gloomy and old.

Saturday, 1 November 2008


So yesterday was office clean up day and just so that we didn't get too down in the mouth about it we did pumpkin carving as well. Our division had 5 contestants and from the votes cast my pumpkin won. It then went up into the departmental contest and guess what? It won there also! (Shock!) Brownie points for our division. I got a tin of biscuits, and a voucher for the health food shop across the street.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Paper Lite

Our modernise team at work is making us practice being paper lite (we're going to a new office which will be spiffy but require hotdesking with finite storage space). I'm not good at paper lite. I have records that need to be kept for external bodies. It isn't unnecessary, its required. I also work on several projects at once and undertake lots of tasks at the same time (y'know, multitasking - its a skill, apparently). I leave the work out so I remember that I'm doing it. I put it away when its finished. Our departmental modernise tsar thinks I'm just messy and unnecessary. Its a little offensive.

So tomorrow we will be clearing our desks. We did this two months ago. We will also be carving pumpkins for a departmental contest. Personally, I have work to do.
Cold Snap

Oooeeee its cold. [Not cold, of course, by artic standards, nor for that matter by Wisconsin standards - huge piles of snow not melting on the fields and streets, blue clear skies and cool winter sun, never getting above freezing for months. Not even cold by Scottish standards]. Cold for South England in October. Time for hot chocolate, snuggling on the sofa in a blanket, and yes for the central heating (even though I swore I wouldn't turn it on until November).

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Fall Back

We fell back on the weekend. Each six months we put ourselves through this ridiculous body-clock upsetting rigmorole. Its miserable now - dark at 5.30 (before work chucks out), hate it. Really makes it seem like winter drawing in. Dreary, dark and grey from now until spring (British winter for you). Our winters are not like the bright but cold winters of Wisconsin (blue sky, sunshine, never gets above freezing). For now my internal clock is struggling to get back in line.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Brain dead

Facebook is making me brain dead. I suddenly realise I haven't written anything for ages, instead I've been playing MobWars on Facebook - if ever there was a stark reminder that computer gaming stifles creativity and imagination. I'm going to have to go cold turkey.

Pops wrote me an email about the blog being dead - some programme on Radio 4 was discussing what was to become of blogging now that Facebook, Twitter and the like are here. In writing the reply to him I decided that of all of them blogging is a more high end art - at least you have to write about something - while the others are more like chatting. I like blogs because they are an individual's work - they don't look alike, they don't sound alike. Effort is expended to create something.

I've also decided to stop reading the free rags that abound on public transport and in the street because they too are rotting my brain. Too much gossip news is bad for intelligent processes. Instead I have been reading books again - I'm on the third one. Its better.

Friday, 17 October 2008


A caf. One of those cafs where people go to eat alone, fast. Not fancy lunches with ciabatta bread, fine lettuce and cheese from abroad. A greasy spoon, with formaica tables that are attached to the chairs, with tea stirred with iron girders, everything with chips, and customers that ask the waitress to hold the salad. Builders in dirty shoes, old ladies of Walworth, old men with nothing to do, pramface girlmums and their mothers. All the lone eaters sat on the same side of their tables - looking out onto the autumn sunlit street. Occassionally flicking through the paper - the kind that carries topless pictures on the third page. A man came in and sat down on the next door table to a lone woman. Bucking the trend, he sat facing her across two tables. It felt oddly inappropriately intimate. He ordered plaice and chips with peas. And tea, with lots of sugar. She had to think about not staring at him when she surveyed the scene, looked out of the window.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Ceramics Class

Its all about the bowl this half term. Two different series - the first were more torn bowls. Thinly rolled clay torn into strips and laid into a mould - pressing them together very slighly - just enough that they hold together.

The second series is made of porcelain, mostly pinch pots, also thinly made. Rice grains were pressed into the clay - I bought long grain and pudding rice. They burned out in the firing leaving little dents. They were glazed with transparent glaze that fills up the holes.

Friday, 10 October 2008

End of a Book

A book. Not like a newspaper, which is disposable, throw away, fleeting and dates (wouldn't think of reading a two day old paper, although it comes back into its own as history later).

With a book there is a relationship. You carry it round with you. The words wrapped in its jacket. Holding it as you read, touching the pages as you turn them (with newspapers you want to touch them as little as possible - holding the edges so the print doesn't rub off on your fingers).

So you carry the book round (and from a personal point of view I try to keep it neat, protect it, not let it get too scuffed up from bag battery) and read it in fits and starts, on the tube, bus, lunch hour and snatched five minutes after arriving at work becuase the paragraph isn't quite finished. Absorbed into its described world. When its a good read you're conflicted - rushing to get to the end but wishing it would last forever, the story drawing you further and further until you turn the last page, read the last paragraph, the last sentence, the last line and finally the last word.

At which point you are thrown out of the world your mind has been inhabiting back into the reality of your own world. All grey, inky, cold, wet and responsible. Its like a breakup - suddenly there's a hole that was once filled by the writer's voice. You don't want to fill it with someone else's straight away, you need to recover and not to rebound. Its emotional.

I will carry it home later and put in on the shelf where it will remind me of itself when my eye casually lands on it in passing. The book I'm breaking up with today? Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (yes I know I know - old book, ought to have read it already - its been sitting in my to read pile for a number of years)

Saturday, 4 October 2008


Jubilee Line between Waterloo and Baker Street is considerably posher than my route between Seven Sisters and Highbury & Islington. Suits on my line are cheap and worn with brightly coloured shirts and fat-knotted ties - the sort popular with mobile phone salesmen on Oxford Street. Jubilee line suits are political - pinstripe double breasted - smart and old school. Also there are lots of tourists - anaraks and backpacks.

Change onto the Hammersmith and City line. I'm not chilled out enough for it. I'm a Victoria line girl - a train every minute, one in three an empty train so you get a power-sit down for two stops with time to read the Metro. Hammersmith & City trundles along the oldest cut-and-cover part of the tube network. People get on. People get off. Chucks us all off at Edgware Road after changing drivers, waiting for 10 minutes and then deciding it is now going to be a Circle line train. Nobody complains. In my head I'm hopping mad and cursing. Frustraing. I'm glad I don't have to travel this line always.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Ceramics Class

Back to class. I had some things to finish that I started last term.

One of them I made by rolling clay very thinly, tearing bits off and layering them into a mould (bit of a cheating way to work because the forming is not by my hand), and for the other I wanted to make a coiled pot with long skinning coils. It sort of held together and glazing really helped.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

A man walks into a bar

Man in a pale grey suit walks up to the bar, peels off his false mushtache, puts it in his pocket and orders a drink. Leaning against the bar he tries to get a hair out of his mouth, repeatedly picking at it iwth his finger and thumb. Something is odd about his suit - it seems to fit right - arms are long enough but not too long, legs are the right length, just something doesn't seem quite right. Maybe something to do with being in disguise.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Posh Shopping

Me: going to the ribbon shop on Marylebone High Street (eek - when I got there it had turned into a bed linen store, fortunately the clerk knew where it had gone to - just round the corner, phew). After the purchase of a particular kind of velvet piping that can be sewn into a seam (only place I know that sells it) I'm an interloper on an expensive street and suddenly become very aware of my fraying coat cuffs as I rub shoulders with women in tres chic macs, expensive brocade or fur jackets and £200 patent leather pumps. How the other half live.

Afterwards I pop into Selfridges where its ok to be a bit edgy (that'll be me in my old coat then) alongside the designer clobber.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


It was beetroot carrot and ginger, thick like blood, stained teeth like red wine. I dutifully took a sip when offered a try, it was heavy with the flavour of earth and tangy. The baby decided to dunk her dummy in it, sucked it and instantly burst into tears. Sobbing. Obviously not expecting the repugnant taste. Personally I would have done the same except that I'm an adult and such behaviour is not expected.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Burgeoning Big WoWo

(Its a quote from a teeshirt...not sure what it means but it does feel like a fanfare which is fitting when I'm bringing you fashion tips). White teeshirts are in this year. So are bras in multitude of colours, with lace, sparkles, beading, polka dots and embroidery. Don't go so well together, despite there being a lot of it around.

Huge breasted girl in a vest with a pink/red/yellow stripped bra underneath. Small breasted girl with black bra with pearls on under her white teeshirt (Big WoWo). Somehow leaves nothing to the imagination. Which is a bad thing... or perhaps that's just me.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Autumn Night

Cold seeps out from the dark park through the open gates. Chills the ankles and creeps up the legs. In the park the dew must have fallen. Tall trees tower overhead and hold the cold air down.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Fair Purchase Policy

The checkout chick wouldn't let the Chinese woman ahead of me buy 50 packs of instant freeze dried noodles with bacon bits. She was only allowed to buy 10. It came to £1.10. I was amazed. (Partly because I can't imagine anyone else even wanting such a thing, I would have thought they'd be glad to be rid of it).

I'm hoping he didn't think he looked like a woman because he really really looked like a balding fat middle aged man in women's clothing. He'd made no effort - no wig, no make-up, not even a shave today really - apart from his pink v neck sweater worn backwards, jean skirt and spike heel boots (that were rather worn down - obviously not their first outing). Perhaps its the feel of the clothes. Or something.

Two women do make-up - compacts held aloft, eyes wide, lids pulled up or down, sticks of kohl and mascara wands held dangerously close to their eyeballs as we lurch along the track. All the suits were pinstripe. Perhaps its the fashion. One an unusual beige, worn with a pink and white candy stripe shirt, picking his nose with his left hand that sported a heavy gold wedding band.

We attempt not to trip up our fellow commuters as they struggle to alight through the standing throngs.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Hearing the click-clack tapping of a blind man's cane [Tom Waits - Gun Street Girl]
Or, Secrets from the Blind Man's World

Did you know that there are little cones on the bottom of the green-man button box that turn round when the green man is showing so that blind people can tell when it is safe to cross. I didn't. But I checked a few yesterday evening and they really are there. I'm on a course at the moment with a visually impaired person (also referred to as a VIP) who was giving us a brief awareness raising course.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Vote for the Most Depressed Day of the Year

Its grey, its been raining heavily. Today is the 9 September, its drizzled, its dreary and it didn't really get bright all day. I woke up with an overwhelming sense of gloom probably due to bad dreams that were brought on by being scared by noises in the night (bad foxes). It didn't lift on the way to work and when I got out of the tube the street was wet again. In work it was afflicting a number of other colleagues and the atmosphere was much dampened.

So, I raise the motion that September the 9th is the most depressed day of the year. I base my motion on the fact that the sun has barely shone the whole summer and despite hopes for an Indian summer it appears that we are well and truly heading for winter. The nights are drawing in noticably already. I'm going to start my holiday fund for next year. I need enough to get somewhere hot and guaranteed sunny - doesn't have to be interesting. I just need at least 12 hours vitamin D generation for a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Fly Trap

I bought these two venus fly traps because they were on show at the checkout at Homebase. I was in the middle of a fly-problem at home (its been another summer of pest-problems - first a dead rat, then the flies... nightmare) and was trying anything as a possible means of conrol - there are sticky fly thingys, a blue light and now these.

I took them home, put them on the window sill and didn't really expect them to contribute to the war on bluebottle. However, they have so far caught 14 flies between them. 14! And not just little ones either - proper blue bottles that they can hardly get their lips round. I'm impressed.

Monday, 1 September 2008


Late in the evening I stood in the warm evening air watering the garden and something bit me on the foot. In the night I must have scratched it. By the morning it was swelling up and red and itchy like mad. Later that day it was moving around my foot skin - it was up my ankle and is now working its way down the foot into my toes. Its a bit freaky. I've only developed this kind of reaction to insect bites recently which I find suprising.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Bus Shelters Gallery

I've been meaning to put these up for some time but continue to fail to get a decent picture but I'm now going to put them up anyway (some of the turf hearts are looking a bit spartan now that its been dry for a while - they started off so lush and lovely!). So bus shelters. Now featuring art (and for some time it seems on bus routes that I don't normally take), if you live near Southgate Road, Old Street or work near Moorgate. Two sorts - these funny brightly coloured sputnik things or turf hearts. Love it.

I think this is the artist making the spudniks. Article by Londonist, Guardian.

Sunday, 24 August 2008


There was evidence of a massacre on the lawn - little black feathers strewn across it. Since there wasn't a body I suspected the foxes - they tend to eat stuff entirely.

Cooking dinner I went out for some mint and discovered a carcass nestling in the pots, carefully placed as if lain there purposefully - a decapatated blackbird with weirdly grey legs. Bit of a shock. Bagged it up and tossed it (don't know why it wasn't as disgusting as the dead rat we found last week - maybe because I was a vegetarian making a roast chicken dinner for the very lucky boyfiend so my squeamish response was dulled already).

Later next doors' cat suddenly appeared sitting by the open back door - he sometimes comes but mostly in the day time. My suspicians changed as to who was the suspect for the black bird murder. Very much a cat type gift.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Shortning days

When did it suddenly start getting dark at 8.30 again? It suddenly struck me this evening.
Word Cloud

Courtesy of laP, via bignjuicy, a link to Wordle that has created a wordcloud of In the Aquarium. Vacation and clouds feature in big writing - perhaps its a state of mind. And then I did it again...
Red Admiral

Spotted one in the garden today - resting on the elderberries that are drooping from heavily laiden branches. Adding it to the short list visitors this year: peacock, comma and an abundance of small whites. Don't know why I get so excited by them but I do! (I've also had dragonflies.)

Thursday, 21 August 2008


Vacation is a word that always seems a bit matter of fact, business-like and as such best describes my time off from work. I am not on holiday - holidays are frivolous, exotic, trips out of your regular scenery. I have been off from work for almost a week now. Not been anywhere but the house. Which means I have been travelling less than on a regular week (which in itself is lovely - the less tube the better!) Instead I have been staying up late and watching the olympics live in the middle of the night, sleeping late, painting my hallway (it has taken me some time to figure out quite how I was going to do that - it's a stairwell and I have a fear of ladders, but with extendable poles and paint pads its not been that bad), and capturing any rays that break through the clouds. When I've finished the hall I will be able to hang some pictures which I've had hanging around for some time. Finally get rid of the last colour choice of the previous owners. Its all good!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Queen of the hill

Lady drunk sits atop a litter bin in the rain. Cheeks rouged by alcohol, hair in a pony tail, white shoes, surrounded by male courtiers drinking special brew from the can. She's screeching hey! hey! at a group of poles standing a metre or two away as they spark up cigarettes. Can I 'ave one? she asks in her best little girl flirt when she finally attracts one's attention. She has to decant from her litter bin throne in order to claim it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Weather: changeable

  • Waking up: heavy rain (listening to it through the open bedroom window without looking out)
  • Awake: get up look out - sunny and raining. Craning out of the bathroom window - there is a double rainbow to the west
  • Leaving for work: drizzle, grey
  • Emerging from the tube: threatening clouds overhead
  • 1.30pm: blue dky, occassional white clouds

Sunday, 10 August 2008


We've been watching quite a lot of the Olympics. Its a habit from when I was a girl. Our family wasn't particularly interested in sports but we always watched the Olympics and Wimbledon. I've periodically added other sporting events depending on friends and boyfriends - currently that means football, but has in the past included snooker, cricket and formula 1.

So far I've been watching:
  • rowing - some of the races but trying to miss the meet the people in the boat segments because they aren't enhancing my experience of the sport.
  • men's gymnastics - very impressive feats of strength and control, and none of the arm and hand twiddles that female gymnasts have to pepper their routines with.
  • swimming - always like watching swimming, I like the under water shots, and the line of the world record going along. I'm very much rooting for Phelps, but also for anyone from outside the normal swimming-winning nations (glad that Taehwan Park from Korea won a gold in 400m freestyle). Very irritated with Sharon Davies' commentary - each time the GB swimmers don't come 1st, 2nd or 3rd (which is always) she starts off the interview with, "are you disappointed?" which really dampens their youthful excitement about being at the Olympic games swimming in competition with athletes they are in awe of.
  • boxing - not sure why I watched it but I did.
  • archery - its a funny sport - tense and taut with very big bows. Disappointed by our GB team - they seemed to shoot more accurately against the Chinese and then having failed to make the gold/silver contest got worse while competing against the French. Still they are clearly better than I'd ever be (very small target when its set a 70m.
  • women's cycle road racing - which was very exciting at the end, a Brit in the breakaway group, who the commentator was suddenly very concerned about when she seemed to be slipping off the end of the group, only for her to come back and win it in the sprint. Her absolute jubilation at winning was a joy to see.
  • 2 minutes of beach volley ball (honestly, this is clearly not about the athletes but the sport of watching the athletes - how can it be taken seriously when they wear really skimpy bikinis to play in - its ogling that is the real sport here).
This morning Dad and I watched his copy of the opening ceremony. Great fireworks. Really great fireworks. A male display (female - one at a time, making for a slow paced display but able to savour every explosion, male - set them all off at once for an intense but impressive display - its a theory, someone told me one bonfire night - I like male displays better, personally). All over the city. Loving the birdnest stadium. I even liked seeing the athletes parading in - bright eyed, excited by the occasion, taking pictures of the crowd who were taking pictures of them. The ceremony was impressive, although at times rather long I thought (we could fast forward the slow bits).

I'm concerned about the London Olympics. Clearly Londoners and Brits generally are less than enthusiastic about them. Being stingy is clearly not going to help us make a successful games. I'm not sure we can come up with an impressive opening ceremony, I'm not even convinced we can get the stadia finished in time (while I love it I do remember that the Millennium Wheel didn't actually get raised until sometime after the new year, and remember the issues with the Millennium Bridge?)

Everyone keeps saying we can't top the Chinese so we should do something really low key and different. I'm not sure low-key will help to get people engaged. I think we should do something like a massive fireworks display that snakes all along the Thames - a massive intense male fireworks display from Parliament all the way to the O2 or something. Less of the bah humbug. More passion. Maybe.

Saturday, 9 August 2008


In the Haringey People (my local info mag) June edition it promised that most households would get enhanced recycling by the end of the month. So I started collecting up plastic bottles and cardboard - excited that soon I would be able to not put them in the bin. End of June came and my enhanced recycling didn't materialise. So eventually I emailed and asked them when I would be getting it. Their response was that the vehicles that collected enhanced recycling were the largest in their fleet and couldn't fit down my street.

The regular dumpsters fit down my road. I just don't understand why they don't think about the size of the roads that have to be collected from - it isn't like my street is really especially narrow - this is London, some of the streets are residential, with parking on two sides. I just feel that if my neighbourhood was in the middle-class heartland over by Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate it would have to have some solution provided. Pisses me off!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Waiting for Vacation

I'm feeling a distinctly low ebb in my creativity. Probably working too hard. Soon I'll be on holiday. One week to go...

Guilty pleasures. (whisper: I've been watching Big Brother. Even though I swore I wasn't going to).

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Wally Road Caf

An old lady wearing a teeshirt with a seal on the front sits inside a greasy spoon cafe eating a fry-up. Her dogs are outside. 2 of them loll on the pavement. The other one sits in the pram watching her through the window.

Monday, 4 August 2008

London from a child's perspective

There's buses. Bendy ones. And double decker ones. Double decker ones are better becuase you can stand looking out the front top windows. You can see everything. Counted clocks on the way home. There were 10. We saw sculpted faces in the buildings - men, ladies, babies and sheep with horns.

One park to the next. Liked Stationers Park best - lots of climbing and balancing on tightropes to do. Liked swimming in the Serpentine - came out covered in green algae.

On the Southbank there was a water fountain - it was in squares. It kept sinking and getting tall. Lots of people were in it - all wet. The big boys had gone in with all their clothes on. Little kids were in their pants or swimmers. It was cold but exciting to run through the streams.

Trains, under and over the road. We walked through a tunnel under the river. Later we went on a boat. A fast boat but not as fast as expected. Waved at people on other boats going past and on bridges. Some of them waved back. One man driving a tug, came out of his cabin and blew a kiss.

Monday, 28 July 2008


After the sweltering heat of the day I sit outside in the dark watching moths flicker in the garden light, listen to the clatter of my neighbour's cutlery in their washing up and the distant rumble of cars on the new road, and relish the cool on my skin. Two silent flashes of lightning. No thunder or other dramatics.

Reminds me of driving from Chicago to Madison on one of those long straight american road the whole land stretched out ahead of us, lightning flashing a third of the way up the sky way way off in the distance.

We could do with a storm. It would clear the air. Make sleeping easier again. Lighten the air.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Sunday Morning

Woke with a jolt at 8.00am convinced my alarm had not gone off and I was late for work. Convinced. Only when I was sitting upright on the edge of the bed did I realise it was Sunday. Hate that.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


Well, a genteel sort of party. A house party held by someone who lives at Westminster Abbey. (!!) Different world. Fabulous old buildings, lovely gardens, Palace of Westminster poking up over the wall as a backdrop.

The lay vicars (not sure what that means exactly, apart from the fact they sing with the choir) sang a version of the Beatles' When I'm 64 (it was a 64th birthday party), in the style of Barbershop - a quintet rather than the usual quartet. The light fell over the grounds. There was a mass party saying-of-grace and then we ate. Some sixth formers (sons of the clergy) had been drafted in to be waiters and kept topping up the glasses. On the way out the halls were very quiet, we walked over gravestones embedded in the corridors, lights came on as we passed. I wouldn't have liked to have to do the walk on my own. Stepping out of the cloisters there was a bat flitting overhead. Back to the 21st century and the hubbub of the city.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Head in the sand

Clearly these days I've been going round with blinkers on - work, home, work - and have missed finding out about the London Festival of Architecture until I stumbled across these structures in Bedford Square, then saw another one pinned to the corner of the Canadian Embassy.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Talking on the phone while on the loo

Would you/could you/well you wouldn't really would you?
At home (maybe...)/at work (I don't think so)?
Flush or wait for the call to end first?

Its not nice really is it. Somehow worse at work. I went into the toilet today and someone was having a conversation on the phone in there. It puts me off being in there at the same time as someone anyway but when you think someone on the phone may be hearing you...

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Eye Test

Walked over to 20/20 and found they were offering walk-ins again (some time since I've been). They made me look at the long road with the hot air balloon going in and out of focus, puffed air in my eyes (but kept warning me so I started closing my eye before it came - pavlovian responses and all that), made photos of my eyeballs to see how healthy they were, made me read lines of letters (this or this, this or this, a or b - sometimes difficult to tell the difference). Overall one eye has gotten a little worse.

I was very good afterwards and didn't buy the lovely Alain Mikli's that the salesman picked out for me - tortoise-shell and mauve and a mere £325 (the most expensive pair I tried that day - isn't it just always the same - always drawn to the dearest) for the frame alone. I think I may just get my old ones reglazed...

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


It rained all day today - sort of drizzly at first wafting up under the edge of the umbrella and gradually heavier and heavier. Sky a misty grey. Reminded me of holidays at the grandparents on the West Coast of the Highlands. It could rain for a week solidly without letting up. We'd stare out of the huge picture window longing for it to stop, leaning elbows on the sills and mess with grannies knick knacks - china animals, metal bowls with the odd loose button. Watching the distance with the binoculars searching for some blue sky on the horizon which disappeared in and out of the rain haze, occasionally a boat would slip past. No where to go and nothing to do until granny got the card table out and we'd play a game of whist (she was a card demon - always had an ace that she'd play with a flourish at some deadly moment). Or we'd be made to go out in it - cagools and wellingtons - walking with the rain stinging your cheeks until you were wet through to the skin. Come home to change and spend the rest of the day washing and drying clothes. Top loading dryer made the whole house smell of hot cloth. Only Grandpa dealt with rainy days/weeks the same way as dry one - out fishing in a big sou'wester, tending vegetables in a beaten up old Barber jacket, tying up fences, bringing in coal. Coming home smelling of wet wool.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Tube Details

  • One button on a pink shirt with a blue check is sewn on with yellow thread.
  • Hem of a summer coat pulled up because of a lining that isn't long enough. Gathers and puckers.
  • Yellow teeshirt under blue and white shirt - vague greeny hue apart from collars, cuffs and yolk.
  • Smart looking in a natty lemon waterproof jacket, apart from very old shoes covered in grass clippings worn without socks.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Men's Singles Final

I woke up dreaming about my mum and my sister. We were going to a wedding that needed 6 changes of outfit. I didn't have six options and thought it was OTT so was refusing to go to all of it. My sister was upset with me and ran crying to our mother, who was dressed and ready to go in a silk shirt dress, lying down in bed with my Auntie Jennifer. She was trying to placate my sister while saying that I was allowed not to attend it all if I didn't want to...

I went round to Dad's in the rain for breakfast. He made pancakes (which were exceptionally good) and we watched the men's tennis final. I wanted Nadal to win. Pops was conflicted - head wanted Federer, heart wanted Nadal. I have always found it hard to really root for Federer because of his striking resemblance to Quentin Tarantino.

I came home in a rain break which was lucky considering the fact the match didn't finish until 9.15. I vacuumed the living room while watching - kept disturbing the house spiders' routine. Then I took a chunk out of my knuckle while grating Parmesan. It bled so profusely that it came through the plaster immediately, so I had to change it. By the time I got back to my dinner it was almost cold.

Cleaning my teeth before bed I looked at myself and thought it had been a good hair day today (its a lot on the dry side these days which makes it difficult to manage) which I felt was a shame since it was Sunday and nobody would have seen it much. And then I was gong to crush it by sleeping on it.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Friday Evening

Out-of-towners are swarming around West End Theatreland. Waiting to go into overblown musical extravaganzas in garish dresses. Tourists are intermingled in their Euro-summer threads - three quarter-length sporty shorts and pale jackets, or white trousers and tans. Trying not to get run down by errant bus drivers whose vehicles lurch forward alarmingly in traffic. London workers relax after work drinking outside pubs. Mostly pale and black suits, chugging larger.

She wore her VPL proudly as she strutted along the Walworth Road, tall in wedge platforms, cool in her short tan shirt dress. A passing man turned around to watch her arse walking on by. It was going to be a glance but it turned into a stare.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Credit crunch

Reading the London Shite this evening I didn't manage to supress a giggle when I read the headline [cue cloyingly irritating breathy female voiceover] This is not just any credit crunch, this is an M&S crunch.

Saturday, 28 June 2008


After the cooking we toasted marshmallows on old twigs of elderflower. Loving that brown-on-the-outside and runny-on-the-inside tooth rotting sugar rush.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Online dating

As an observer of the ritual that is dating (we in Britain seem to have embraced it post-Sex in the City), it seems that things have changed. No longer does the chosen way to find a date involve hanging out in pubs and bars steadily getting pissed, trying to impres likely candidates with your quick wit and banter. Oh no.

All my friends are now signed up to online date sites. Maybe I need to clarify that. Most of my friends who are 30 and above are signed up. I suspect that for those in their 20s can still get away with the pissed in pubs methodology - being tipsy is only cute in that age group.

Anyway, online dating - a. its addictive, b. its nerve racking (judging by how much time I spend discussing it, even though I'm not involved), c. in the end you just have to take the plunge and meet some of the total strangers to see if they are indeed anything like their picture or half as witty as their profile would make them seem.

I'm now waiting for the fallout. There is bound to be some - dates which had to be ditched in the middle by climbing out the toilet window, people who used the picture of their good looking cousin instead of their own, and stuff. I'll report back when I get the juice...
Ceramics Class

I've been going to ceramics class. Its a little light relief from the working week. Something to look forward to, something that takes me out of the computer-based world and back into a light hearted, practical and messy environment that encourages a little bit of creativity.

For some reason I've been making pots with small bottoms. And the other thing that I wanted to do was to make some pots for my cacti.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Things that have been stopping me blogging...

Oops I've had an unintentional blogging holiday. Life outside is somehow keeping me from virtual life, partially through its crushing mundaneity.
  1. Working - after spending all day with the computer at work the last thing I want to do is work on the computer at night. Also working takes up an inordinate amount of life time.
  2. Euro 2008 - while I wouldn't say I am a massive fan of the football game, boyfiend is and since the games are on the box we've been staying in and watching it. Computer wifi interfers with the digital TV.
  3. Longest day - I love it as the days stretch longer and longer towards the longest day - evenings outside in the garden tinkering, or sitting, or barbecuing (any excuse this year, even when it hasn't been very warm or when there aren't many people to partake - had about 6 so far).
  4. Babysitting the niece and nephew - weekend spent keeping little people occupied - knackering!
So there we go, those are the excuses, if you'll have them.

Saturday, 14 June 2008


Bails and I met for a late breakfast at a cafe near my house that I wanted to try. Its the first place I've discovered in the year and half that I've owned the house that actually seemed like a place I really want to go. It was small, run by a couple, had unmatching wooden tables. They did an English breakfast or a continental. Coffee like it comes in France (as opposed to in Starbucks where you can have big, bigger or biggest) - a moderate cup, with a saucer. We sat outside. The sun shone. People went past on the way to and from Bruce Castle Park - walking dogs, playing tennis, walking for fitness, going home from shopping. There was a constant stream of customers, but we still managed to stay for a continental breakfast with fried eggs extra with coffee and then a further pot of tea. I love finding a cafe like this in Tottenham - a 5 minute walk from home.

Bails came and looked at houses with me sometimes - we saw some really pokey ones, with bathrooms cut out of kitchens on the ground floor, dark corridors, in areas where people left junk on the street and disaffected youth hanging on street corners. When we saw what has become my house I had a sign of relief - it had space, interesting layout, light and large hallway and an upstairs bathroom (which had become important luxuries during the search). I could see myself there. Bails was very nervous that I couldn't move fast enough to get it (although she didn't say so at the time, only later). I'm probably almost starting to feel at home here. I've gotten used to its location - it isn't as far off the beaten track as people who don't live here think. The only negative is that there isn't really anywhere to go that's nearby. Apart from this cafe (woo hoo). Now all we need is some decent restaurants and a nice bar.

a. Birds like cherries. (Cherry tree at end of garden is hosting a huge number of feasting feathered beasties.)
b. I like cherries. (I can eat a whole bag of cherries in one sitting.)
c. I am an bird.

Monday, 9 June 2008


My overwhelming thought watching this is that the natural world is a cruel and dangerous place. We've had chicks dropped out of the nest by unfamiliar males, weasles jumping into the nest and eating the last remaining baby, fledglings jumping out of the nest to their deaths, mothers abandoning the young, attacks by competing birds. More like a thriller.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

I like to ride my bicycle

Tottenham Green Fair. Cycle London had brought an odd assortment of cycles (not all of them bi) that kids, generally, were having a great time riding. Some were difficult to balance on, hard to steer and odd looking. We laughed.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

The Nun and the Lift

The blue nun (as in colour of her habit, not the wine) was uncharacteristically pushy - launching herself through the closing lift doors all elbows and outreached hands, nearly grabbing the woman ahead of her's right breast in her eagerness to get into the lift carriage. Its not the behaviour one expects of someone in her vocation. Perhaps I'm being prejudiced - I only have past experience of one other blue nun to draw on. Perhaps there are many pushy nuns out there, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


I have a very North London diary apparently. Its from Paperchase, week to view, with a stripy cover. Very North London?! What does that mean? Kooky? Quirky? Alternative? Whatever.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008


Today, while washing up I thought it would be excellent if you could blog by thinking. You could do a real stream of consciousness. You could blog while you worked. It would be great. I'd blog a lot more I reckon.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Office Toilet Traumas

3 cubicles. My preferred stall is on the left against the wall. This stall was occupied. My second choice stall would be on the right - while this is closest to the door it is farthest from the other occupant. Unfortunately the seat in this cubicle is lose on one side and therefore subjects the sitter to alarming slippage at inopportune moments. So the only other choice, or rather option, was in the middle, next to the other occupant. I hate peeing right next to someone. Their noises put me off. Actually I would rather they make noises than be silent, when I imagine them sitting there silently waiting for me to begin and finish before they dare to relax, listening...

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Around the Garden - a tour of the blooms