I love my city because...
It is constantly changing and yet familiar. Anonymous but friendly. Residential, industrial and entertaining. Fast paced with sedate pockets. I love my city because I am a Londoner.























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PREFACE
Instead of an 'about' page.
Some background information
to this blog and blogger.
There are two parts:
In Brief - 10 Things
and in more depth
The Interview


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copyright Harriet Duncan
1997-2006
(unless explicitly quoted or credited)
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Searching for Answers
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My Year In Blogging
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We love Wood Green
Late Night in Muswell Hill
Mirror Moment

Richard Long Day
How to Wash Up
As I was travelling home
Harriet's Pearls of Wisdom
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Reflection
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Office Party Season (x2)
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How to Cope with a Cold
Mr Bean Goes to an Interview
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Harriet's Mobile Phone History
Swimming Lessons

Monday's Life Class - 25/08/03
Late Night Bus Journey
The Man with the Mole
Phew What a Scorcher!
In the Kitchen
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Dhaliwal Cup 2003
All Staff BBQs
Lake District Relatives
Getting the Best Out of Your Photograph Booth Pictures
Things to do in the Supermarket
Slag & Lettuce, Islington



SERIALISATION
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Inside London Mob ##2
Inside London Mob ##3
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Inside Flashmob - The Opera



Public Transport Etiquette
Public Transport Etiquette: Rule 1
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Public Transport Etiquette: Rule 3
Public Transport Etiquette: Rule 4



Spanish Lessons
Spanish Lessons no.1
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NOT LONDON

Holiday in Valencia, Spain, 2004
Clouds Over Spain
Sleeping
The Spanish Hooker
Friday Night Saturday Morning
Evening Drink
Cathedral de Valencia
The Return
Portrait of a City










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In the Aquarium
a londoner's life
 

Saturday, January 31, 2004  

Tomorrow

I learn to make patterns for shoes.


12:52 AM


 

On the Way Home Things

1. Man at the bus stop with a turrets-like response to pissed girls getting off (quite frightening).

2. Everyone is really really pissed (it is after midnight but it feels like people must have been stuck in with the snow and have suddenly let their hair down).

3. The snow has completely gone, even from my street which was entirely compacted ice earlier today.

4. Office man sauntering up the street in his suit and black mac drinking beer from a bottle while his leather soled shoes ring on the paving stones.


12:49 AM


 

The Tinderbox Lovey Darhling

A blond deep-voiced woman with one dangly earring wearing a poncho was reading a casting copy of The Happiest Day or something like that - a Yorkshire TV production that she was auditioning for. I know this because an older australian woman with a pink hat and a squeaky voice was asking her if she was trying out for it or was in it. On finding out that she was trying out for it she wanted to know if she found auditioning nerve wracking? The blond felt not really, only sometimes when it was something really important.

And then the blond started fidgeting - she was drinking cappuccino but it was too strong and she needed more milk, she was slurping quite loudly and eating froth off the spoon. Her s's were harsh and sharp and kept splitting my ears. She had to get on the phone so as not to talk to the aussie anymore.

"...but Linda Barker is a moose. A real C-list celebrity acting like she's somebody, complaining about the make-up artist. Everybody thought she was a dick..."

I'm with everybody, personally..


12:45 AM



Wednesday, January 28, 2004  

The Big Chill

Its been cold today. And right now its snowing that wet sleety snow - piling up against the window on the left handside and the sill - and the most amazing purple lightning flashed twice - purple lightning. London is terrible in the snow - even this tiny amount can cause untold chaos - with transport (wrong sort of snow on the tracks) leading to with work and people's ability to get there (traffic chaos).

Its now heavy enough to make a snowball. This is rare weather in London indeed.


5:31 PM


 

The Dreaded Driving Test

A colleague of mine is having their driving test today. She's been learning for what seems like months, was first given a test date in December but was lacking in confidence to do it then so postponed it. Her driving instructor gave her a homeopathic remedy to help her remain calm (one which doesn't induce drowsiness, naturally). She's being tested in Mill Hill. She wanted to know if they had lots of roundabouts there. I've been thinking good driving thoughts all day.

I was too scared to learn to drive until I was 24. The whole idea of being in charge of a machine capable of killing people was just too much of a responsibility. I finally decided I needed to when I was going to America to live for 6 months (the thought of being trapped in a small town unable to drive was just too much to bear). So I embarked on an epic learning curve where I just didn't entertain the prospect of failing.

I started with a few lessons with the AA Driving School where I discovered: how to actually steer round a miniature roundabout (the crucial thing here is that the steering wheel goes round and round several times to help you to do this - one revolution will have you driving across the road, over the pavement and into a hedge - nearly happened but for the swift intervention of a driving instructor's hand); how to deal with an accident situation - not my fault, a moped did an illegal right hand turn and drove straight into the side back door of the car (first experience of those ominous letters from the police informing you that they have discovered no grounds to prosecute you in this instance - I mean really it wasn't my fault - wasn't that obvious from the beginning?); and how to talk for hours about a man's d i v o r c e and the loss of visiting rights to his kids (I personally felt that the best policy was one of listening but not delving too deeply into the whys and wherefores, if you know what I mean).

Then as my deadline loomed I decided I needed swift intervention because I was running out of time. So I did an intensive driving course. Four hours driving a day for two weeks, tested at the end wherever there happens to be a cancellation. It was TOUGH. Its a lot of driving and concentrating. There were days when I was waiting to be picked up after lunch that I was dreading getting back into the car. And generally by the end of the day my driving was abominable.

So on the morning of the test we had an hour long lesson where we basically had to drive up to Palmer's Green to the test centre. The driving instructor was very quiet this particular morning. I thought perhaps it was too late to even worry anymore.

The driving examiner was one of those beige and sensible middle-aged men who you imagine were middle-aged when they were 20. Sensible brown clarks shoes with rubber soles (wouldn't want to get struck by lightning or anything). As it turned out I could read the licence tags at the specified distance and luckily he was a model railway enthusiast - he built proper steam trains on the weekend. Having just finished a metals degree I could spaff on with him about metal working techniques and finishes. And even though I had to use common sense to answer the final question about what was important in maintaining the safety of the car (was that in the highway code - couldn't possibly tell you) I passed.

On the way home I kept saying I couldn't believe it and the driving instructor said I was driving very well - see how he didn't have to correct me on anything that morning, and I told him I thought that was just because he didn't want to blow my confidence.

News just in: she failed.


5:25 PM



Monday, January 26, 2004  

Monday's Life Class





Four minute drawings and one minute drawings done without looking.

I feel like I must be going through a period of transition. You get these leaps forward and then stand still or go backwards before you go forward again. The short poses have an energy that I'm finding impossible to inject into the longer poses. The longer poses feel and look laboured and lackluster. Started the long pose this evening by doing a not looking drawing and then drawing into but still looking for something, technique, style or something that enables me to continue to draw with the same level and capture something a bit more than an ok life drawing.

Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.


11:45 PM


 

Bus Journey Number 19

"Anymore purlease, don't be shy." Ding - old fashioned sound of ding and a slap as the bell string slaps against the ceiling. Had almost forgotten that sound. "Come along sir, walk while you talk, don't hold us up. There you go. Than KYew!"


11:40 PM


 

Waiting for the Weather

The clouds are going from right to left past the window today. Its started raining. We await the big freeze. I'm contemplating turning the radiator on by my desk because it is colder.


9:30 AM



Sunday, January 25, 2004  

Party Games

Tonight we went to a house party where everyone seemed younger and drunker than us and we sat in the chill-out room and played that game where you draw parts of the body without looking at the previous bit - first draws a head, folds it over, next draws the body, folds it over, next draws the legs, folds it over, last draws the feet. We thought this was suiting because we first met the host of the party at lifedrawing classes.




Then we progressed onto group poetry but we weren't as good at that (we wrote terrible verse together - partly because we hadn't discussed the type of poetry we were going to write and some of us wrote rhyming and others wrote free-verse).

The filthy little tart,
woke up with a start,
the
great frog pounced from the river's long tongue and gleaming eyes,
then mice danced on cheese by candlelight.

They danced liked crazy tigers
tigers
prowled the streets
people fled, and sped along to catch up on Zed,
Snow was falling


2:08 AM



Friday, January 23, 2004  

Play This!

At the end of a tres busy week this shot round the office.
Yeti Against the Penguin


And when you tire of it look at this.


5:39 PM


 

Additional Information

Not many posts this week - I've been putting together an about page of sorts. Don't know why but after New Year I felt that it was a good time for a change or two.

So the first change that has already been implimented since my old comments system was offline again for ages (having already lost all the comments from the whole 8 months I've been blogging - I think I am finally over this loss, well maybe) is a change over to Haloscan. Still ok it seems and very much more flexible than the old one.

Second change is to add an about page - I've called it a Preface, as opposed to about (about seems such a clumsy word) and you can find it here. There are two parts to it - The Brief (10 Things) or the long (The Interview). Hopefully it will shed some light on why, who and what (if you find you need any additional information).


11:05 AM



Tuesday, January 20, 2004  

Joys of Late 70s Beauty Treatments

As one embarrassed colleague hurriedly rubbed a huge blue date-stamp-ink smudge off the side of her face, the office had a moment of reminiscence (admittedly I was remembering my mother's dressing table, rather than my own experience) talking about cold creme as make-up remover, ponds and oil of ulay. One ex-hairdresser colleague told us about wet-look and slicked hairstyles of the era made marvellous by use of (in the absence of alternative products on the market at the time, brylcreme - too much stink and grease) KY Jelly. This hairdressing product was supplied by chemist two doors down which fast ran out, much to their amusement, and worries of sweepings-up girl about being mistaken for a brothel maid.


2:25 PM


 

Monday's Life Class





So today we drew a long-20 minute pose (i.e. it was longer than 20 minutes but its aim was to be 20mins). Then a single line drawing - not letting charcoal off the paper at all. And finally went onto not looking at all at the paper. All this I enjoyed. After the break we had to do a 30 minute pose and after all that free moving loose drawing I really lost it (sorry its a no-show).

Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.


12:24 AM



Sunday, January 18, 2004  

On the Way Home

Its been one of those girly evenings - cooked dinner at a friends house, talked for much longer than I intended and so finally was waiting to catch the bus home at 11.00. At the bus stop a yooff asked me the time, and I told him an approximation because I don't wear a watch. My bus came, I got on it. So did he. He decided to sit near me and do his version of chatting me up.

"So, do you want to learn drama or modeling?" - I mean really at my age, who does he think he's kidding. "I'm far too old for that", I say hoping it'll just shut him up.

"Oh but you don't look old". I smile ruefully.

"How old are you anyway?" "33." I may not look it but I look close enough to it.

"You married?" Ignore the question, instead ask him one in return, "How old are you?"
"23". Hum, yes, 10 years my junior, who'd have thought!

"You married?" Persistent indeed. "Yes." Best answer to this questions always, and I mean always.

"What do you do?" Mumbled so badly I can hardly understand and have to say pardon. "I manage a learning centre." Best not to go into it really.

"You look nice, do you want to go for a drink?" Bam - could've seen it coming but it was incredibly bluntly done, I have to say. "No, not really." Seriously now.

"Can I ring you?" Like WHY? "No, I don't think so."

"Do you want to ring me?" And in this conversation what exactly makes you think I might want to? "No, I don't think so."

"Ok, bye." I'm so glad he got off I can't tell you.


11:53 PM



Saturday, January 17, 2004  

Where the Rich Folks Go

Today I have been shopping with the rich folks in Bond Street. I started at the Picadilly End where it is actually Old Bond Street. You can tell by the shoes, bags and coats that people are wearing. And by the cars parked on the side of the road. A family parked and got out - man in winter whites with a cable knit sweater, she was wearing jeans and fur. Their kids were better dressed than me.

I sometimes like to look at what the rich folks are buying. Bond Street is great for this - theres Cartier, DKNY, Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren etc etc. I have to say its not the uber-rich that shop here. The windows say it all really - the shops don't make too much effort with them, just putting the merchandise in the window makes it look good. And when they do something it manages to come across as tacky and expensive (maybe this is what I think flashy is...must think on that) which just about sums it all up. The jewellers and shoe shops do it best. Darhling, you must go, you simply must (I tried hard not to buy anything, and succeeded remarkably well!).

But it sort of loses it when it gets to Fenwicks and becomes a lot more Oxford Streety.


7:35 PM


 

Manic Week

So as an antidote to all this work work and january blues I have signed up to do a shoe making course. I'm actually extremely excited by the idea of being able to have shoes exactly as I want them. Probably going to be hard though.

I was also going to install a different comments system because KlinkFamily is once again down for a day. Sadly I didn't write down the recommendations and the one I'm trying to install won't work. sigh.


1:00 AM



Friday, January 16, 2004  

January Blues

Boy have I got it bad this year. Don't know what it is exactly that makes it so bad. Short days with no excitement. Everyone's broke, busy, nesting. When you do go out, there's not much going on.

I'm staring out at the tumultuous sky rushing past - dark clouds, no breaks to the blue sky. Have been enjoying the weather though - icy rain, strong wind, the sound of something too big to control or harness rattling the windows. Just wish I had a view over some rolling hills or something - anything to clear the mind - can't believe it but I'm really missing the christmas views.

Its worse because I haven't got an exciting holiday plan to look foward to in the near future. Winter sun really helps. A little blast of the other side of the equator, a culture different enough to shock, different buildings and landscape. Its always a great tonic. Perhaps I should get out the old photos.

Ho hum, must get on with the report I'm supposed to be writing.


12:40 PM



Tuesday, January 13, 2004  

Monday's Life Class



Boy do you get rusty quickly. Today we did the usual 10mins, then lots of 4mins (first picture), then drew single line drawing, then without looking and finally 20min poses after 8. Phew!

Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.


12:44 AM


 

Texas Teenage Virgins

Bible-belt pastors and the evangelical church should not be allowed to sway judgements about sex education because:

  • They liken purity of the body to being a new toothbrush

  • They make young people afraid of sex

  • They tell them lies about contraception, disease and feelings

  • They talk about male and female sexual arousal with metaphors such as the microwave vs the slow cooker - and yes we ladies get to be the super sexy slow cooker. Isn't this rather too much of a male myth?

  • Despite all the young people taking purity pledges and all sex education in schools and churches teaching abstinance as the only path, Lubbock has some of the highest STD and teenage pregnacy rates in america (are we suprised?)

  • They believe that the loudest voice tells the greatest truth


Knowledge is power.
Sex is natural.
Pity the poor Texas teenagers.


12:37 AM



Sunday, January 11, 2004  

Insomnia

I love to listen to the rain in the early hours of the morning. Falling against the canal water and through the trees. Heavy drops drip from over the window. And bird song before dawn.

Thankfully it wasn't a work night.


3:19 AM


 

Going For a Drink Together

Three people sat together having a drink each of them on the phone to someone else. Is this fear of being alone gone mad? Or are they really very popular indeed. Hmmm.


2:09 AM



Saturday, January 10, 2004  

Friday Night Drinks

The journey took us from London Bridge All Bar One (all rennovated and terribly suits-after-work but a good place to meet for a swift half) to Old Street where we had one drink in the Cantaloupe (really not sure about this on a Friday night, in fact, any night of the week anymore), ate in a kebab restaurant called Shish (was actually very good - being veggie I had a halloumi shish with red onion and peppers) and then into the Electricity Showroom for one for the road and finally home. And on the way noticed:

Blond upper-middle class girl, big teeth and a low forehead who let her lower lip slacken as if her tongue was too big.

A group of over-weight middle-aged IT or maybe sales end-of-the-week-drink. One of whom bore a passing resemblence to Jon Bon Jovi. He probably has a blond trophy wife.

Eyeball time for the young working man. Lets his hair down, oiled by a few pints and finally allows his eyes to wander over the rumps of his female colleagues.

The post man (not the sort who delivers letters but one who was leaning up a pillar) in a business suit, yellow necktie, blue shirt. The shirt was slightly too tight round the neck.

Tanktop man - 70s retro chic. Not quite retro enough to pull it off. His mate in combat pants and grey sweatshirt relying on his height to overcome his sticky out ears kept looking round whenever a laydee brushed past him as if they had touched his bum.

Two people talking animatedly in the middleof the bar. Couldn't decide whether they were having a row or not. Neither cracked even a glimmer of a smile for over an hour. Lots of punctuating the discussion with head pointing for emphasis. The woman had jeans so tight you could count the change in her pocket.

Just before we left the Cantaloupe in search of something more interesting I went to the toilet. Next to the ladies was a door labelled nothing interesting in here, with another opposite nor in here. And I know it was meant to but I had to open them becuase while in the toilet I imagined that it was a reverse psychology trick - most people would be too cool to try but if they did they would discover amazing underground bars where all the truely cool people had started drinking, all the gorgeous and interesting and unusal guys were in there (cos they certainly weren't upstairs) and a great time was guaranteed to be had. So in thinking that I wasn't going to be too cool to try the door I was bitterly disappointed when they were both locked. Such high expectations dashed. Further along the hall on the way back to the bar was another door The Cage. As I pushed that one, just in case, a man came by and read it with a tone that had one raised eyebrow. I said "I'm terribly disappointed there is nothing there to find", he said "if there was a cage in there I'd be right behind you darling". Probably a good thing it was locked then really.


2:25 AM



Wednesday, January 07, 2004  

Great Things Happen No. 1

I have a scarf, its not particularly beautiful - just soft wool, long and wide. I use it everyday and it comes in very useful for instance when its cold in a room - like a shawl. When I first got to olympia today (and olympia is huge) I sat down to plan my course of action - what way round the exhibition. I left my scarf on the cafe table. I didn't realise this until about 3 hours later. When I realised it I had that kind of flashback thing where you remember all the useful things about the item, how you've used it, when, moments that have given it sentimental value. And then because it is quite old I thought I wouldn't be able to get one like it again. And then I thought about where I might have left it. I had been everywhere, all over. But when I finally realised the most likely place to have left it was the cafe I made my way back there and they had it. Phew what a relief!


7:16 PM


 

As I was going to Olympia...

I sat on the District Line train on its way to Olympia. Four middle-aged men were on their way to the BETT exhibition (its about IT in education). Boffin types: middle-aged, beardy, large lips, rimless glasses, brown shoes. Something about certain institutions but staff may grow to look alike over time, or maybe they are hired that way. They sat in a formation where 3 were on one side of the carriage and one was opposite. As the train trundled along the one on his own read out an advert to the others, "have you found the right treatment for your erection problems?" They had a discussion in dutch - lengthy. "Man Matters" he said at the end - presumably they were asking who the advertisers were.


6:13 PM



Tuesday, January 06, 2004  

This Evening I Have Mostly Been...

Aralditing the stone back into my ring. Jewellers would freak but I just don't want to lose the stone - its not like it would be easy to find a replacement to fit. It was like wiggling milk teeth - you just can't leave it alone to drop out, you have to help it along. Found myself doing it subconsciously - just rolling the stone around in its setting - it wouldn't go very far but enough to rattle slightly when shaken close to the ear.



11:04 PM



Monday, January 05, 2004  

Monday's Life Class

Its been two weeks. We were told on the last class that it would be two weeks until we were back. I stood outside for an age thinking about the Observer article 21 Ways to be Better in 2004. No. 20 was Learn to Draw. "Life drawing has apparently become very fashionable indeed, even getting a mention from Vogue the hot things to do in 2004." I was so engrossed in my thoughts about what a trend setter and style icon (as if) I am that I didn't even realise until 19.10 that nobody else had turned up and the room was still not open.

So instead I had an achingly slow journey home on the 341 bus along Essex Road. It was full (the road not the bus - just for clarification) of 12th Night christmas trees littering the road - dried out, unadorned, abandoned.

Sadly I was sitting next to one of those women who feel their bag deserves a space on the seat next to them. She kept clearing her throat. And when her phone croaked (very odd frog ringtone going on, most disconcerting) she had a conversation with someone in a tone that told them she was tired of it before she started, all unentusiastic and tetchy.

Its my worst time of year - the long drawn out dark months before spring. Wet, dreary. All lost glitz, empty pubs and nowhere to wear your christmas clothes to.


8:49 PM



Saturday, January 03, 2004  

Just Out of Interest...

I just noticed while watching an interview programme about the making of Absolutely Fabulous that all the main characters are played by actresses with names beginning with the letter J: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks and June Whitfield. I'd never noticed before.

It reminds me of when I started my current job and people kept saying it was getting too confusing working with all these H women, we have: Harriet (thats me), Hannah, Heather, Hazel and we used to have Hiliary. Quite enough for us to be going on with. That might be why someone kept trying to call me Geraldine. Oh and my boss has recently hired an admin assistant who is also called Harriet. Most disconcerting - having never actually known another Harriet before, I now find (when at HQ) that when someone calls my name I turn round and find they didn't mean me...


2:38 AM



Thursday, January 01, 2004  

Happy New Year!






We shopped, we ate sushi, we had a coffee, we walked across Hungerford footbridge, we found a quiet restuarant, drank a bottle of wine, stood for 20 mins with lots of European tourists, watched as the clock on the Houses of Parliament slowly moved up towards 12, cheered, watched 3mins of amazing fireworks, some of which shot off the Millenium Wheel, then we went home, not too drunk, and will not be hung over tomorrow. Happy new year - in the words of the maitre d at the quiet restuarant, may it bring you "love, wealth and happiness" (if this be your hearts desire).


2:15 AM


 
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