Monday, 30 July 2007

A short play about filing, or laughing

Set: Bibliographic Services Department, open plan office.

An envelope with hand-written address is lying on the floor by the bin. It has a strip of celotape along its length, with loose ends that have stuck and got crumpled up.

EW: Is that yours, Harriet?
Harriet: er, yes
EW, concerned: What is it, a letter?
H: Yes, (joking) I was just filing it there
EW: Really??
H picks up the envelope, opens it, shows the contents: Its empty!
EW: laughs
H: I find the floor is a good place for filing papers
MA: yes me too, but I don't normally celotape them down
H: Oh I think sticking them down is really effective - you can vaccum round and they don't move out of place [laughing]
Harriet's mobile phone rings and is answered during the last sentence.
Boyfiend: Who are laughing with, girl?
H whispering: its the library staff [laughing uncontrollably] there's this letter... stuck to the floor...filing....
B, annoyed: I can't understand what you're telling me...
H: but but....its a letter with celoptape....[weeping with laughter]
B: call me back when you get control of yourself. Click.

Perhaps you had to be there.
Hair raising

There's a tall man standing directly under a ventilation shaft on the tube carriage - the front end section, midway between the seats. The air is being sucked out of the carriage through it. His hair is being lifted up and the ends disappear into the shaft. He keeps patting it back down to no avail. It makes me laugh. All messed up and not even at work yet.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Two crap jokes walked into a pub...

How much do chavs pay for shampoo?
Pan ten (think of it in a cockney accent)

Two parrots sitting on a perch. One says to the other, "can you smell fish?"

These kind of crap jokes make me laugh. I'm sad, I know.

An owner tries to coax her morbidly obese dog to walk home. He's a fat black labrador whose back legs are struggling to hold himself up.

The man at the next door table asks, "what would make you happier, babe?" into his mobile phone. Its the start of one of those conversations where he's full of ideas to solve your problems (ring friends up and suggest things you want to do, make an effort with them, be enthusiastic) and then hits her with the you're-not-very-good-at-being-proactive criticism.

I'm imaginging a snivelling wreck of a woman on the other end, snotty from crying incontrollably with long blond hair. "You have to use your brain to think up ideas that you want to do, rather than just tagging along," he continues.

The fat dog has managed to get half a block.

"What's different between them and you?" She must be having one of those what's-wrong-with-me, everybody else is so lucky, victim whines. "What'll it be like for me when we go to Brazil and I have no friends or family around?" She is suddenly no longer blond but instead a firey brunette.

Fat dog has gone round the corner.

He's moved into motivating mode - trying to get her to do something, go out, look at architecture, do some drawing, get excited. "Can you see I'm trying to help and love you?"


Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Ceramics Summer School

I've been at ceramics summer school for the last two days. It completes on friday week when, fingers crossed for fine weather, we will be firing them in the raku kiln. Its great to go to an arts class for two solid days. Helps you to actually get through quite a lot more than 4 weeks of regular class.

I tried to use a variety of clays (porcelain, stoneware and delta - a slightly pinkish clay). These are strenghtened by addition of grog or in the case of porcelain I put in malacite sand - this helps the clay deal with the thermal shock it will go through during the raku firing process. I also tried to make different shapes. Limited to 30cms high. Between now and next friday they have to be biscuit fired ready for glazing before being raku fired.

Monday, 23 July 2007


Bails' father died last week. He had been living in a nursing home for some time after becoming unable to look after himself and needing special care due to having a form of parkinson's disease. He was very frail. She's up in Hull helping his widow (his second wife) deal with the arrangments.

Somehow, however old you are and however regularly (or not) you see your parents, the loss of the last surviving one leaves you feeling like an orphan. My dad said the same when his mother died - he was in his late 60s or early 70s (for some reason I can't remember exactly when nanny died). Something about that person just not being on the planet anymore has a psychological impact on your sense of... not sure whether its security exactly or maybe it is.

Anyway, my thoughts are with Bails, its a busy time, after death, with little time for your own emotions (focus on other people - making sure everyone knows, making arrangments etc).

Sunday, 22 July 2007


In the supermarket carpark 2 men use metal hooks to grab clothes out of the recycling bins. A third man folds them up neatly and stacks them to take away. Stack after stack.

Friday, 20 July 2007


A woman is well turned out. Fresh for a new day. Eyebrows painted on in a perma-surprised arch that finishes some way above the plucked bald brow line. These brows close the gap between brow and hairline, shrinking the already low forehead. Why do women do this?

Eyebrows - a particular obsession of mine.

Man opposite has narrow bushy-in-the-middle ones. Man next to him has fledgling wild ones (I expect his father has big bushy out of control ones that grow long). Behind them a man with a strangely condescending face in repose with one eyebrow higher than the other and slightly handing eyelids. On the other side a woman with natural blond arches and a likely-historic use of powder blue eyeshadow.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Angry flip flops

From the other end of the platform I become aware of an aggressive sounding slap of plastic shoe against foot as a woman storms up towards the train indicator with determination. Angry flip flops I think. How can it be possible to tell the anger from the sound? I glance at her, her face is contorted by a frown. Angry.

The train approaches, we get on. I read the paper - its full of David no-policies Cameron. My inner ticker-tape (I'm on a management course - its full of lingo, I'm studying resilience, hearing your inner ticker-tape is the path to improving your resilience - am I sounding indoctrinated yet?) is thinking about what makes me frustrated and angry. I don't think it usually manifests itself in my shoes.

Get off the train at Moorgate. Angry flip flops are already slapping loudly along the platform towards the escalator. I follow them down to the Northern Line. Is four minutes to the next train. Suddenly they become quiet flip flops as the woman slows down.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


Before this I had basically used the same cooker for 36 years (not that I actually did the cooking during all that time - they didn't let me start cooking until I was at least 7, even though they taught me how to make a cup of tea at 5 so I would let them sleep in). In the last 6 or so years the oven on said cooker had broken and the temperature was hard to control. But you get used to it anyway.

New kitchen. New cooker. Its oven is fan assisted. I can't get anything right in it. It cooks way too fast. Things crisp over on top before the middle it done. Perhaps it'll take another few years to get used to it. Until then everything will be overcooked but underdone.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Hot July Rain

Hot rain falls. People huddle under the canopy of shops, in bus shelters or doorways. A squash faced old man gurning unintentionally stands on the doorstep of a closed pub. To russians under a tree in shorts and vests look down at their sodden trainers and laugh. Everybody piles onto the bus - buggies crammed on, familes crowding round to check the babies are content. Traffic is slow. We inch forward, rain streaming down the windows, hot air stifling inside. The man in front of me is exuding a smell of damp tweed mingled wiht stale tobacco. Its a relief to reach my stop, emerging into the pouring rain. My umbrella is big but the rain overcomes my sandles and splashes on my legs.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Handle Etiquette

Crowded tubes. Everybody needs to hold on. While holding on there are some difficult handle-politics to master in order to overcome those awkward moments when stranger's hands touch (not in a good way).
  1. Try not to lean on the vertical handrails - it's uncomfotable for short people to dangle off the overhead bar, if they can even reach it, and annoying if they rely on bodies around them to hold them up.
  2. When holding the handle don't let your hand slip down - it may land on someone else's - acute embarrassment.
  3. Choose a place on the pole when you first get on and stick to it. If you shift position while someone else takes an opportunity to turn the page, you risk them grabbing your hand when they reach back for their spot - acute embarrassment again.
  4. Order of hands on the pole should go in height order to promote maximum comfort for each holder-on.

Thursday, 12 July 2007


Sometimes I have a plan of something I want to do. It generally takes me several weeks to work up the courage to tackle it. Sometimes it still goes wrong. Sometimes it goes wrong even when its simply a matter of drilling a few holes in the wall. How come drilling holes in the wall is fraught with difficulties? I suspect my drill isn't good enough. Or the walls are extremely hard. They definitely are harder in some places than others. On my current list of things to put up I have: shelves (in the bedroom and hall cupboard), mirror (x2), hooks for african masks (wall here is too hard to hammer a nail into without it bending and bits of plaster dropping off the wall - there's got to be a knack to it), CD racks, curtain rail. So many tasks, so much courage to be found!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Tottenham Folks

It was easily 26 degrees outside. Warm enough to dispense withe the recent 20 degree outfits (tights, jacket) and head to the supermarket with bare legs and sandals. Outside the bus a man purposefully strolled along Tottenham High Road in a sleeveless bodywarmer (nothing underneath) and a woolly hat. On the bus a woman with really long fingernails struggled to open a packet of muffs for her headphones. Once open she struggled to get one out and stretch it over the ear-piece. Wearing long fingernails sort of handicaps you - your dexterity is hindered. Is this a statement about you not needing to work?

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Blink and you miss it

A week has gone by. I've not had time to construct a post. Last weekend I had to travel up to Coventry for a training course that took up all of Monday and Tuesday. Fast forward to senior management (trying to decide if this is the way forward or not really). Lots of tests and discussions and posturing for position and trying to figure out who's useful or most like selves. Sometimes these things can be a nightmare. Its like my first MA class - people do a lot to present themselves as they want to be viewed. Takes a bit of time to get beyond that to the real them. It rained all the time in Coventry. I ended up with terrible cabin fever and eventually had to walk around the pond in the rain (and have subsequently developed a good old cough!).

Back from Coventry there were maternity leaving parties (not exactly a baby-shower, since we didn't individually bring gifts) and tender openings that took up muchos time.

Ceramics class came to and end - a year down. A YEAR. Can't believe it.

I went there with the intension of making a bird bath. Finally on the last week I think I may know what I want it to look like - the test piece came out much better than I expected after I glazed it. So I'll have to go back next autumn to actually make it!

Today I'm mostly cutting the grass and thinking that lavender looks very nice with coriander (I let it flower, I know you're not supposed to, but its lovely like that - I think I might grow it in the beds next year).

Next door's dog is whining pitifully because he is lonely. The people in the house next to him are rowing. Their neighbours are playing reggae music. The blackbirds must have babies - they are collecting bits out of the bushes and worms. I'm suddenly feeling a bit suburban. Tottenham isn't as edgy as you might think!