Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Thursday, 25 December 2014
Tuesday, 23 December 2014
Monday, 22 December 2014
Friday, 5 December 2014
I’ve always known open plan hot-desking is bad for me because I can clearly recognise the impact it has on concentration and increased irritation. Other people’s phonecalls at the top of their lungs, desk-side meetings, talking (well, sort of talking – not quite shouting) to colleagues across the space rather than going over to them, uncontrollable temperatures – blasting air conditioning or way too hot, and the need of the window-seat-hoggers to close the blinds on a sunny day to the detriment of those working further inside the building (if they don’t like the light why do they insist on sitting by the window?).
http://stevemaslin.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/place-working-vs-open-plan/ - interesting article by an architect and access consultant (access consultant – no idea what that means) which says
“Our needs vary – but are significantly influenced by:
· Physical comfort,
· Our ability (or not) to cut out extraneous noise,
· Preferences for access to daylight
· Our commonly held preference for access to views of the natural world, and…
Our need to:
· Adjust artificial lighting intensity, position and colour,
· Adjust what is in our visual field and to reinforce a sense of familiarity and recollection to aid our memory”
Its not so much the need for privacy I don’t think but I had never considered that in addition the reduction in concentration there might be an impact on recollection, memory and productivity due to not being able to see a view that includes vegetation or have natural daylight. Our office rules include not eating at the desk (you are allowed a drink and maximum two biscuits, otherwise you are supposed to eat in the designated areas), no plants, no clutter, nothing left on the desk overnight, no fixed positions, no storing things on top of the lockers. This makes it look nice and clean, reduces likelihood of mice infestation (although we have had visits coming up the cabling of the computers from the floor to have a peek at the working desk situation, but not regularly), and enables people to sit wherever is available when they get in.
On top of which I found a marvellous quote from Einstein (and who can argue with him…) which is a fantastic retort to the clear-desk police (to which we had to convert when we started open plan hot-desking), “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Touche.
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Saturday, 22 November 2014
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
Tuesday, 4 November 2014
Anyway, I have one for you. Once upon a time. In a distant galaxy. Far far away.
No I jest.
It was October 3rd of the year 2014. (A month ago). Having just watched the opera Carmen in a church in Shorditch I was walking over a traffic island when I crossed paths with a black panther, who stopped me and said he liked my shoes. I stopped and looked him in the eye. It was a strong and solid look, held totally and intensely by the panther. I cocked my head, thanks. He said he was going into the Cornershop with his friends and he asked me to come, he'd buy me a drink. Eyes locked. I considered it. I should go home. I had to go to my brother-in-laws' wedding the following day. My head said fuck it, you're single do what you like. My mouth said ok, the panther took my hand and we ran across the street. Standing outside while his friends smoked I considered my actions. And then we went in. I bought a round of drinks and we talked. I can't remember what about. Mostly I remember the intense looking. Something in the eyes was telling me something. I'm unused to another person doing that. I've been in trouble before for staring too much. The panther went to the toilet. I talked to his friend Dave. And then he was back. I'm ready to leave anytime. I don't mind leaving this drink. Say 149 and we're out of here. I finished my drink. And helped him finish his. We left.
Outside he offered me the crook of his arm and we walked that way to the bus stop. On the bus we sat with heads turned to keep the gaze while he talked about places he knew on route. And about buses. A vaguely geeky knowledge of buses. Which makes me laugh - I am a bus siren - spent many hours riding the buses from home to the end of the line and back just to be out of the house and seeing the world. We spent the night looking at each other and stroking. In the morning he needed to leave. It took two coffees and a toilet break before he could finally tear himself away.
I slept for three hours and awoke to banging on the door. Blearily opening the bathroom window and asking who it was. A friend, came the answer. Downstairs I opened the door and there stood the panther in a sharp pinstriped suit and white shirt. I was overwhelmed and stood there in the doorway looking at him. Can I come in, he eventually asked. Of course, I said and stood aside. He said he was there to deliver me to the wedding I was going to and get some lunch beforehand. I got dressed. We left looking very Saturday night on a Saturday afternoon, catching a bus to Islington Town Hall where we found a restaurant. Over lunch we held hands across the table and he asked me if I believed in love at first sight. To which I glibly answered I didn't know. After lunch I went to a wedding. Two grooms, one in red, the other in blue. Lovely and full of love. I texted the panther.
The panther texted me on Monday. We met after work for a meal. We talked. In my head I considered the concept of love at first sight. My parents met on a blind date and got married four weeks later and stayed together until my mother died. I never heard them say a cross word to each other. It was a seemingly impossible romance to live up to. But it was real. Not a fairytale from a bygone era.
On Tuesday I didn't hear from the panther until late in the afternoon. I spent the morning in realisation that if I never heard from him again I would be upset, may even be devastated. Could that even be true after four days. On Tuesday evening he wanted to meet but I couldn't because I was at my dads having dinner. He came all the way there to stand on the street kissing for five minutes. I was totally relieved. On Wednesday I went to a classical concert with Susanna and she asked me what it was I had to tell her without me saying a word. And I told her I met this panther and I think I'm in love with him, but is that even possible? She said it can be. There was time spent again on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday morning he texted me and asked me if I believed in love at first sight. And I replied that yes, since meeting him I did. Then, he said, I'm coming home to galvanise that truth. And then he knocked at the door. I love you he said. And I love you back I replied.
And that, was that.
So it doesn't just happen in fairy stories. It's been a month.
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Monday, 6 October 2014
Sunday, 5 October 2014
Invited on a pottery jolly, back in August, to visit Fran and Georg's new straw build house in Norfolk to camp, and do a pit firing in their garden. Unlike our previous jolly we didn't make anything in advance, so it was also green firing of pots that we made and dried on the day we got there. There was a high likelihood that nothing would survive the firing.
We made pinch pots out of grogged stoneware clay. Ate lunch and homemade bread. Went for a walk while everything dried. Tents were pitched. A pit was dug and filled with sawdust. The dry green pots were placed carefully (being extremely fragile at this point) and covered with more sawdust. Rolls of paper and kindling wood were placed over the top and then it was lit. Love a big fire. We sat round. Until we were tired and retired to a variety of beds in tents or in the house. A gale started - blowing in from a tail end of hurricane across the atlantic, and it rained. Never that keen on tent sleeping at the best of times but with howling wind and pumelling rain it was both cold and difficult to sleep.
The following day we extracted the pots, its a bit like an archeological dig. Most had survived. They were fired but not to anywhere near the temperature that they would be properly cured at. But - its the process that is exciting and the company that makes it always worth the trip, even when the pots are nothing to write home about in the long run.
And the scenery was beautiful and I swam in the sea with grey seals.
- Watched Salvatore Guilaino by Francesco Rosi at the ICA
- Went to brother-in-law's brother's gay wedding
- Saw Carmen at a church in Shorditch
- Watched Lucy at Islington Vue
- Watched Pride at Woodgreen Vue
- Watched Citizen Above Suspicion by Elio Petri at the ICA
- Watched The Tenth Victim by Elio Petri at the ICA
Friday, 26 September 2014
Sunday, 21 September 2014
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Thursday, 4 September 2014
Saturday, 30 August 2014
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Saturday, 23 August 2014
Friday, 15 August 2014
Sunday, 10 August 2014
Monday, 4 August 2014
Sunday, 3 August 2014
Friday, 1 August 2014
Thursday, 31 July 2014
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Thursday, 17 July 2014
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Monday, 14 July 2014
There's a building site next to my office that I pass everyday. Yesterday the foreman ran over wanting to exchange numbers with me. Which is flatterning but has to be met with the negative. In the evening as I walked back to the station an elderly gentleman called out asking after me, "hey, how are you?"
"I'm fine," I replied, "how are you?" (gotta be polite after all).
"Not as fine as you," he retorted.
Arriving at London Bridge this morning a man with large feet and 60s style slim legged suit trousers engaged me in conversation on the escalator - he was very taken with my matching hair and glasses and coat (I'm very coordinated sometimes).
I'm feeling a little bashful with all the attention.
Thursday, 10 July 2014
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Monday, 30 June 2014
Sunday, 29 June 2014
Friday, 27 June 2014
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
Monday, 16 June 2014
Sunday, 15 June 2014
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
When I was 18 we spent a lot of time in the Spice of Life pub where I would chat with a particular barman - I was just about to go to art college, he was a film student. He would give me free drinks. On the evening when I met my first serious boyfriend the barman gave me his number. I should have rung him. He would have been creative, he was slightly older, I could have learned a lot from him. Instead I went for a pretend part time punk who came from a small town and never quite shook the small town from himself. 6 years that lasted. Unfortunately.
A very sexy blond Australian with dreadlocks once made a play for me rubbing his foot up and down my leg under the table of the coal hole pub. We kissed deeply on the stoop of the pub until the doorman moved us on for making the place look undesirable. One night of passion ensued. And I stupidly left in the morning without taking a number (pre-everyone with a mobile phone). Never to be able to find him again.
There used to be a private members bar in Crouch End that my friend Alex belonged to. We went a couple of times. One time I struck up a chat with a girl and a cute man who turn out to be actor Don Gilet. Late in the evening he came back and unexpectedly kissed me full on the mouth. Do you come here often, he asked me breathlessly. I don't, I said, do you? No, says he, but I will now. A big missed cue - he was on the brink of doing some big tv and film. I should have picked up his cue and run with it. But I failed to. C'est la vie.
I guess you can't spend all your time mulling over regrets. Need to keep on experiencing life and attempting to make better choices!
Monday, 9 June 2014
Thursday, 5 June 2014
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Monday, 2 June 2014
Saturday, 31 May 2014
By the time I got there I was a bit hot, and feeling unsettled in the stomach. All the smells of people eating warmed meat sandwiches contributed to a queasiness that I couldn't quite shake off. First drink I had to decline and had a glass of water. Shortly after which I ran towards the toilet hand over mouth and didn't quite make it. Vomited on the floor, ran into the loo with a handful of sick. Grossed out. But felt a lot better. We sat and chatted a bit more, watched the world go by and a youth dance group practising. Only to be struck again with a dash to the loo. Decided we had to call it a night.
Rolled up in bed later with a discomfort that only could be ignored by sleeping.
In the morning there is the fear of eating but the craving of hunger. Can't tell you how lovely it is to eat cereal and milk. It feels sort of clean and comforting. And has no adverse effect. So maybe that's it and it's only a 24hr bug.
Thursday, 29 May 2014
I've been in the pub before, it's always full of after-work wanker bankers chugging beer as fast as they can before catching their trains from London Bridge to the commuter belt. Lots of male guffawing and banter. Good location to meet but not my favourite pub.
Was rather looking forward to going in there after the suggestion that it would make an excellent title for a gay porn movie. I can imagine the scene - lively crowd, a mixture of cockney wide boys drinking after working all day in the market wrapping up ripe fruit for rich ladies and fancy chefs and bankers in pin stripes and loosened neckties, slowly descending from a mass shedding of clothes to an orgy revelling in their hard bodies. Sadly the venue of the meet up was changed before I got there. So the gay porno will have to wait.
Sunday, 25 May 2014
Saturday, 24 May 2014
Friday, 23 May 2014
Never been to a writing workshop so I had no idea what it was going to be like. Arrived 5 minutes early but still too late to hide in the back row. It was like being at school again - posturing to find out where we were in the group and trying not to catch the eye of the teacher. There were lots of middle class white young women and then some older people.
We had to do that classic icebreaker where you chat to your neighbour with a view to introducing them to the group. This was where the contest for most-exotic-country-visited was played out. Living in Hong Kong, recently been to Borneo and flew in from Sydney came top. I felt like a fraud - more interested in the writing part of the workshop in an attempt to expand what i write (a blog post is never going to be a short story in my current style) than in the specifics of travel writing. My partner and i both decided we were a little intimidated by the rest of the group - we both were bloggers but by no means felt like professional writers, although she was a copywriter so she kind of beat me.
The first part of the course was about writing itself - making it interesting, balance between fact and experience, the atmosphere of a place. Lots of discussion about the use of cliche, hackneyed phrases of the genre, very interesting thing about beginnings (many of which were actually more like the start of novels - better at drawing me in personally than some of the gushy, over-enthusiastic travel writing we find in brochures - this was a bit of a revelation to be honest, started to feel like there was a path to be followed potentially), lots of discussion about the pieces of writing we had been asked to read before we came - some liked them, others didn't for a vareity of reasons. Then we had to write 100 words on one of three themes:
- view from a high place
- beach scene
- sunrise or sunset
A slow ascent looking out over the green fields of Hyde Park intersected by white paths and milling people shrinking into the distance. Up over the tree tops until we could see Marble Arch and the buildings at the top end of Oxford Street. Grey London rooftops, traffic in Park Lane. Suddenly whipped face down back to earth with the g-force of the Tornado we were riding on.
Some were enthusiastic reader-outers, others of us hid in our seats and tried not to attract any attention! It all seemed a bit too soon for public consumption of my lowly blogger efforts in my own quaky voice. Later we had to do 100 words that would be an introduction to somewhere we had been recently (not having been terribly far recently I thought back).
"Barrier, barrier, barrier" the man hanging out of the window shouts. We pile into the vehicle, people, shopping and live chickens, me the only abronyi on the bus. The conductor slides the door shut and we take off into the traffic on the dusty pot-holed road, quietly crossing our fingers that the string holding the door shut is strong.
Not being called on to read out again, left me with a false sense of security in my own blogging-bubble (nobody needs to hear it, therefore I can avoid being ashamed of the drivel I may be writing - perhaps thats what is comforting about blogging - not that much critical feedback comes in, and you can bathe in the stats of readership that at least someone out there likes to read the drivel, perhaps over and over!).
Final part of the morning looked at structure and how to make sense of a place, quotes and interviews from local people, local knowledge gleaned from 'interviewing' people, some facts, some sense of how the writing experienced the place and neatly rounding up a piece at the end (perhaps returning to the beginning, or a recurring theme) to make it seem whole. And then we were thrown out to get some lunch and write a postcard on one of a number of local places.
Icons of London [I'm thinking of this always in the tune of Werewolfs of London by Warren Zevon - for some unknown reason]Afternoon sessions were about pitching, selling yourself as a writing, writing your first piece, how to get published (market, which publications, type of travel those publications would be interested in, difference between writing for web and writing for print, cold calling). Extremely valuable advice for people getting starting as travel writers. Making it not seem exactly easy - but certainly achievable if you follow the guidelines. We worked in groups pitching ideas of destinations to one another, feeding back as a group. Each individual's idea was given feedback - very useful to get you thinking about how to write travel pieces (what to write about if you are going to a common destination - how to think about what is interesting about your trip, never start with the journey for instance, remember you may be on holiday with your family but you are also working - set the boundaries before you go). Useful not only for budding travel writers, but also potentially for student potters who may want to sell their work.... but I digress.
Fitzrovia is a slightly shabby back street neighbourhood in the heart of London overseen by the British Telecom Tower. Once the tallest building in London at 627ft, it was the iconic skyscraper of my childhood - cylindrical, glass and covered in satelite dishes - a prominent pointer to a digital future. It remains one of the better London tall buildings even now with the city's burgeoning high-rising skyscape. In my early childhood I was promised a visit to the famous revolving restaurant on the 34th floor but sadly the IRA bombing of it meant it was shut before I was taken. Opened in 1965 when Fitzrovia was probably a more industrious neighbourhood it is now planted in an area surrounded by student accomodation, neighbourhood restaurants and independent art galleries. Slightly grubby and vacant the Telecom Tower is a much-loved icon still.
And then fatefully we had to read out our lunchtime tasks, and I didn't manage to escape this time. Feedback was: more local interest needed - interview people, more of me, fewer facts. Its an issue of a. speed writing and b. not quite knowing what I'm trying to do. Blogging is a short thing, usually for me. And I manage to do it in my head as I go about. This is a proper task. And perhaps I shouldn't have been writing about the tower as much as the neighbourhood, and getting a sense of its atmosphere more than just this is what it is. I don't have to consider any of this kind of thing with the writing I generally do. So its a very useful exercise - think about the purpose of the writing, and who the audience is - write to that criteria, don't pander to your own eccentricities. And with that we were turfed out onto the street again. An extremely thought-provoking workshop.